The Indians got six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball from Trevor Bauer and the bullpen tandem of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen retired the final eight outs without a hit as Cleveland blanked the Kansas City Royals, 5-0, on Saturday night.
Bauer got a little help from his friends, who provided some early runs and some good work in the field behind him as the Tribe starter won his 12th game of the season, joining Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco to form the Majors’ only pitching staff with three different dozen-game winners. Bauer has now won each of his last five decisions, the longest streak of his career, and has not taken a loss in over a month.
“I wasn’t sharp tonight. I got a lot of balls barreled right at me,” shared Bauer after the game. “I was able to make a couple pitches here and there when I needed to, but mostly Carlos (Santana) made two outstanding plays at first, and made a couple other good ones. (Jason) Kipnis made a really nice play. (Giovanny) Urshela made a really great play at third. It was just the defense playing really well.”
In the process, the Indians were able to defeat the Royals’ best starter this season, Jason Vargas, who entered with 14 wins on the season. He was unable to finish the fifth inning.
Bauer worked around base runners in each of the first three innings. Lorenzo Cain doubled with one down in the first but was stranded. Alcides Escobar singled with two outs in the second, but moved no further. Cain walked his next time up with two down in the third, but was against stranded, this time on a groundout by Eric Hosmer.
The Indians gave Bauer a little more room to maneuver on the mound in the top of the fourth, thanks to a big clutch hit from the bottom of the lineup. Edwin Encarnacion walked to start the inning but was erased on a fielder’s choice at second. Santana singled Jay Bruce to second and Austin Jackson followed with a single of his own to load the bases. Brandon Guyer was retired on strikes for the second out and Roberto Perez was down in the count 1-2 before singling to left, plating both Bruce and Santana to extend the Indians’ lead to 3-0.
Bauer worked around another two-out base runner in the fourth after a double from Brandon Moss and the Indians’ bats got back to work. With one down, Ramirez walked off of Vargas. After moving to second on a grounder for the second out, Bruce delivered another big hit in his brief time with the Tribe, doubling to right to score Ramirez and knock Vargas out of the game. Mike Minor struck out Santana swinging, but the Indians had a 4-0 lead.
The Royals put together their biggest threat of the night in the following half inning as Drew Butera singled with one out and Cain singled to center with two down, but Hosmer lined out to Santana. They put two on two more base runners in the sixth with just one man down after a double by Mike Moustakas and a walk by Moss, but Escobar grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bauer would be lifted with one out in the seventh after giving up his second single of the night to Butera, but Shaw would keep the Royals off of the board, despite the KC catcher advancing to third on a groundout and a passed ball.
Shaw would work an inning and two-thirds, walking one and striking out one. Allen pitched the ninth in a non-save situation, throwing a perfect inning while striking out one.
The Indians moved to 68-53 on the season and are now 37-26 on the road. Their lead in the AL Central remained at six games with Minnesota’s shutout of Arizona on Saturday. The Royals dropped back to the .500 mark at 61-61 and are seven and a half games in back of the Tribe.
Bauer allowed seven hits in his six and one-third innings, striking out four and walking two on the night in improving to 12-8 while lowering his ERA to 4.50. Vargas fell to 14-7 on the season, giving up four runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in just four and two-thirds innings.
The Indians made use of their opportunities with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-11 on the night. Perez drove in two with his big two-out, two-strike, two-run single. Santana and Jackson led the club with two hits each. The Royals, by comparison, were hitless in six at bats with runners in scoring position. Cain and Butera accounted for four of the seven Royals hits in the game with their two-hit efforts.
The two clubs will wrap up their three-gamer at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a 2:15 PM ET first pitch. Right-handers Danny Salazar (5-5, 3.92 ERA) and Jason Hammel (5-9, 4.74) are the pitching probables for both clubs. Salazar has lost twice in three games against the Royals this season, but is 2-0 in five starts with a 1.39 ERA since returning from the disabled list. Kansas City has had little luck with Hammel on the mound in 2017 – they are just 7-17 in his starts. He has done well against the Indians, however, winning both outings against them this season.
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