Trevor Bauer has always been a little quirky.
Add another quirk to the young right-hander’s resume. After being staked to a two run lead and Bauer in control, the Tribe’s hurler allowed four consecutive hits in the fourth inning. The four hits were enough for Minnesota to generate four runs and the Twins a 4-3 win on Tuesday evening at Progressive Field. Other than the nine pitches that yielded the four hits, Bauer was in command all evening.
Bauer’s four hits allowed were all Trevor May needed to scratch and claw his way through the Indians’ offense for five innings. May and the Minnesota bullpen worked in and out of jams all evening, but the lackluster Tribe offense struggled to get a timely hit.
Cleveland cracked the scoreboard first off May in the bottom of the second inning with a pair of hits to start the inning. Carlos Santana started the stanza with a single to right field and Jason Kipnis remained hot with a double to deep center field to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out to shortstop to advance both runners and put the Indians on the board before Yan Gomes flew out to right field, allowing the second run to score. Gomes’ sacrifice fly gave the Indians a 2-0 lead after a pair of innings.
Bauer cruised through the first three innings, issuing just a walk while striking out three, but the wheels got wobbly on the tracks in the fourth. After retiring the first two Twinkies, Joe Mauer and Kennys Vargas hit back-to-back doubles to get Minnesota on the board. Trevor Plouffe followed with a single to score Vargas and tie the game before Oswaldo Arcia crushed a two-run homer into the right field seats. Arcia’s 16th homer of the year gave Minnesota a 4-2 lead. It was Arcia’s third home run against Bauer in just seven plate appearances over their careers.
And as fast as Bauer lost his control, it returned the next inning. After the four straight hits, he set down nine in a row before he hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch. Once Suzuki reached first, Bauer struck out Eduardo Escobar to finish the seventh inning and his evening. Bauer (5-8) pitched eight innings, allowing four runs on the four straight hits in the fourth, while walking one and striking out eight.
Meanwhile, May was anything efficient, but was effective for five innings. In the fourth inning, he walked Santana and Kipnis to start the inning and set up a scoring opportunity for Cleveland, but the offense could not come through. Chisenhall popped out to shortstop, Gomes flied to left field and David Murphy popped out to third base. An inning later, Jose Ramirez doubled with two outs and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Michael Brantley walked to put runners on the corners. Santana hit a check-swing grounder to third base to end the inning and thwart a potential two-out rally.
May (2-4) survived five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. Cleveland had a chance to knock May out of the game several times, but could not take advantage. Aaron Thompson came on to pitch the sixth inning for Minnesota. He set down five in a row before Michael Bourn and Ramirez hit back-to-back singles in the seventh, forcing the Twins to summon Brian Duensing. Duensing got Brantley to line out, stranding two more base runners.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Indians finally scratched closer. Santana started the inning with a double off the wall. After Kipnis flew to right field and Chisenhall grounded to shortstop, Duensing was pulled for Casey Fien. Fien allowed a single to center to Gomes and Santana hustled home to cut Minnesota’s lead to 4-3. With the tying run on first, Jason Giambi represented the go-ahead run at the plate. However, there was no September magic in Giambi’s once-mighty bat. He flew out to left field to end the inning.
Marc Rzepczynski and Scott Atchison worked the top of the ninth inning for Cleveland before Jared Burton came on and earned his second save of the season for Minnesota. Burton set the Indians down in order, replacing Glen Perkins who was unavailable. Cleveland had nine hits in the game, but was just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners. Ramirez had three of the Tribe’s nine hits.
The announced crowd of 9,489 is the smallest September crowd to see an Indians game in Progressive Field history.
Cleveland will try to even the series on Wednesday when left-hander T.J. House (2-3, 3.71) takes the mound for the Tribe. Minnesota will answer with right-hander Kyle Gibson (11-10, 4.27), as they will try to win the series.
Photo: Mark Duncan/AP Photo