Strikeouts are supposed to be good, but for Trevor Bauer on Sunday, they were not.
Bauer lacked the command and control he demonstrated in his first two big league starts—and partially due to eight strike outs—got his pitch count up quickly, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to take advantage with a pair of home runs in the fourth inning and three hits from Steve Pearce. Pearce was 3-for-4, with a double and an RBI in replacement of slugger Chris Davis, who received the afternoon off.
Bauer squandered an early lead while Miguel Gonzalez rebounded for a quality start to give the Orioles a 4-2 victory. Cleveland leaves Baltimore with a split of the four game series. Long at-bats against Bauer in the first four innings caused the Tribe starter to quickly wilt in the heat.
The Indians’ offense staked Bauer to an early lead in the top of the first inning. Michael Bourn started the game with a single. Carlos Santana—hitting in the second spot—walked and Michael Brantley singled to load the bases off Gonzalez with no one out. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate a run and Nick Swisher followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
But Bauer worked long counts all afternoon, thus quickly escalating his pitch count. In the first inning he walked one, while striking out a pair. In the second inning the Orioles were able to put a run on the board while escalating the pitch count. Steve Pearce singled to left field to start the inning and stole second base while J.J. Hardy struck out. Jonathan Schoop dropped a bloop single in to right field and Pearce hustled home from second to cut the Tribe lead to 2-1. Bauer added another walk and strike out after the run was scored.
Bauer suffered another high-octane inning, full of long at-bats and another Baltimore run in the third inning. After striking out Manny Machado and getting Adam Jones to ground out to start the inning, Nelson Cruz doubled to right center field and came home a hitter later when Pearce singled to left field. Bauer struck out Hardy to end the frame, but the Orioles had tied the Tribe at two after three innings.
After another walk and a strikeout in the fourth inning, Bauer was at 96 pitches. Baltimore took advantage of all those long at-bats and slugged their way to the lead against the now, tired Tribe starter. Machado started the fifth inning with a home run to right field and after an out was recorded Cruz crushed a solo shot to left field, giving Baltimore a 4-2 lead.
Machado’s second and Cruz’s 16th home run of the season was enough to end Bauer’s (1-2) afternoon. He lasted just four and one-third innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out eight. It took 105 pitches to record just 13 outs for the young, right-hander. Bauer’s command was not nearly as sharp as it was in his previous two starts with the Indians this season.
Mark Lowe came on for the Indians, appearing in his third game since being added to the roster on Thursday afternoon. After allowing a ground rule double to Pearce and single to Hardy, he struck out Schoop and David Lough to end the inning without further damage. Lowe earned the first two outs, while giving up a single, in the sixth inning before giving way to Scott Atchison for the final out. Atchison stayed on to work a clean seventh inning.
Meanwhile Gonzalez (3-3) made the most of his 100 pitches, going six strong innings, allowing just two runs on four hits, four walks while striking out four. After allowing two hits in the first inning, Gonzalez only allowed two more hits for the afternoon. David Murphy and Bourn each singled in the fifth, but Murphy was thrown out trying to steal second base and Gonzalez got Brantley to ground out to end the inning with a pair on and the Indians were stymied.
Former Indian farmhand Preston Guilmet worked a scoreless seventh inning, working around a walk to Justin Sellers. Guilmet pitched three scoreless innings against his former team in the four game series this weekend.
Brian Matusz pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Baltimore and Josh Outman did the same for Cleveland before Zach Britton came on to close out the game for the Orioles. Britton worked a three-up, three-down ninth inning, earning his second save of the season. Cleveland was able to log just five hits on the afternoon and only one against Baltimore’s bullpen.
Cleveland will continue their voyage back to .500 on Monday in Chicago. The Tribe will send Josh Tomlin (3-1, 2.91) to the mound against the White Sox’ Jose Quintana (2-4, 3.67) in the Memorial Day matinee. Cleveland is hoping to get Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis back in the lineup during the three game series on the South Side. Monday’s game is slated to begin at 2:10 p.m.
Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo