Trevor Bauer gave the Indians six and one-third innings on the mound and Michael Brantley drove in a pair of runs as Cleveland knocked off the Texas Rangers on Wednesday in a 5-3 final.
With manager Terry Francona back in the dugout after missing Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons due to health issues, the Indians supported their starter with some rare runs at home.
Bauer set the Rangers down in order to start the night before his teammates gave him a lead to work with against tough right-hander Yu Darvish. Jason Kipnis reached on an error, coming in for a rest at second base. Francisco Lindor drove him home with a single to right to put Cleveland on top, 1-0. The Indians would eventually get runners on second and third with one out in the frame after a fielder’s choice by Brantley and a double by Edwin Encarnacion, but Brantley was thrown out at home on a ball off of the bat of Jose Ramirez before Lonnie Chisenhall struck out swinging.
Bauer retired the first eight in order before a two-out walk of Joey Gallo in the third. He would be forced at second and the Indians’ bats would get back to work as the top of the order came back to the plate. Kipnis walked and went to third on a single to center by Lindor. Brantley singled to center to score the runner from third. With runners on the corners, Encarnacion grounded into a force at second for the first out, but Ramirez knocked in another run on a single to right. He would be caught between first and second as the throw appeared to be going to third base before being cut off for a costly second out before Chisenhall struck out swinging again, but Cleveland had a 3-0 lead.
The Tribe starter did not give up his first hit until one down in the fourth, when Elvis Andrus singled but was stranded at first. The following inning, however, they found the scoreboard as Robinson Chirinos homered for the fourth straight game to put the Rangers in the runs column, trailing 3-1.
Momentum looked to be leaning in the Rangers favor after Darvish pitched out of a jam in the fifth after Kipnis doubled to lead off the inning and stole third one out later. The veteran righty struck out Brantley and Encarnacion swinging to leave a big run at third. The Rangers then came to the plate and had some traffic on the base paths in the first real threat to Bauer all night. With one down, Shin-Soo Choo singled to center. Andrus followed with his second hit of the game to put two on for the heart of the order. Adrian Beltre grounded sharply to third, where a diving Ramirez snagged the ball and threw a hopper to Carlos Santana at first base for a big second out. Nomar Mazara grounded to second with the tying run in scoring position as Bauer dodged a big bullet.
Bauer retired the first batter in the seventh with the game still 3-1 before handing the ball to Andrew Miller and the bullpen. Miller was sharp, retiring all five that he would face while striking out each of the last four to step to the plate.
The Indians tacked on what would become some significant insurance runs as the Rangers went to the bullpen, bringing on Ernesto Frieri. He walked each of the first two batters, setting the stage for a sacrifice bunt by Kipnis, moving both runners up 90 feet. Lindor was intentionally walked to set up force plays as Dario Alvarez entered in relief. The move would backfire on Texas as both Brantley and Encarnacion drove in runs with singles as the Indians doubled their advantage to 5-1. Ramirez would ground into a double play to end the seventhand the Indians would reload the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but Lindor fouled out to first to end the rally.
Cody Allen entered in the ninth in a non-save situation, but as has been the case in his recent appearances, he was touched up for a home run. Andrus was the perpetrator leading off the inning, cutting the score to 5-2. Allen bounced back and got Beltre to ground to first and Mazara to strike out before Jonathan Lucroy singled to right. He moved to second on indifference and scored on a single to center by Rougned Odor to bring the tying run to the plate in the hot Chirinos. This time, he would not deliver as Allen struck him out swinging to end the ball game.
The win pushed the Indians to 41-36 on the season, while the Rangers fell to 39-39. The win maintained Cleveland’s half-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central, as the Twins were victorious in Boston Wednesday night.
Bauer (7-6) worked six and one-third innings, allowing a run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He did not have his usual swing-and-miss stuff, but he controlled the game and limited the opposition’s foot traffic all night long. He improved to 4-0 in four starts with a 3.96 ERA over 25 innings of work against the AL West this season.
Darvish (6-6) took the loss despite a quality showing. He allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six innings of work.
Andrus had three hits, a run scored, and had a run batted in on the night, delivering his tenth homer of the season with his late blast. The aggressive Rangers bats combined for just one walk in the game.
Each of the top four hitters in the Tribe lineup supplied two hits each. Kipnis scored a pair of runs while Brantley led the team with two driven in. Chisenhall had a tough day at the plate, going 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and three strikeouts.
The Indians will go for the series win on Thursday while dealing their ace, as right-hander Corey Kluber (6-2, 3.24 ERA) looks to go 4-0 in the month of June while making his sixth start of the month since returning from the disabled list. The Rangers will activate right-hander Andrew Cashner (3-6, 3.50) from the disabled list to make the start on Thursday. He has been on the shelf since June 17 with a strained left oblique muscle. In his last start on June 14 in Houston, he allowed four runs on ten hits with a walk and four strikeouts in just four innings of work.
First pitch of the regular season finale between the two clubs is scheduled for a 12:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak