The bats for the Indians remained about as frigid as the temperatures in Cleveland once again on Saturday afternoon as a seventh inning solo homer from Lucas Duda proved to be the difference in a 1-0 loss.
For the sixth time in eight games, a final score for the Indians (3-5) was decided by one run and for the fourth time, Cleveland came away on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The loss spoiled a fantastic start by Trevor Bauer, who battled the elements and made some pointed comments following the contest about the safety risks pitchers across the country are facing while trying to get warmed up in inclement weather.
Bauer’s opposition on Saturday, right-hander Ian Kennedy, was also sharp on the mound in one of his best pitched games against the Indians in his lengthy career. He allowed his first hit in the second to Edwin Encarnacion and gave up a single to Bradley Zimmer in the third and another one to Encarnacion in the fourth, but none of those runners were able to advance past first.
Bauer kept the Royals in check through the first four frames. They got their first base runner in the third when Drew Butera drew a two-out walk, but they went hitless for four straight innings.
The first real threat in the game came in the fifth with two outs. Alcides Escobar singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Indians catcher Roberto Perez, but he was stranded after a walk and steal by Alex Gordon when Butera struck out looking.
The Indians tested Kennedy in the sixth when Francisco Lindor started the inning with a double to left-center. After Jason Kipnis struck out swinging, Lindor stole third, but Jose Ramirez struck out and Michael Brantley filed to center.
The wasted opportunity would prove costly for the Tribe as Duda jumped on the first pitch from Bauer in the seventh and sent a solo homer over the wall in right to put the Royals on the board, 1-0. Ryan Goins followed with a single, but Escobar was called out on batter’s interference and Gordon filed to center to keep it a one-run game.
Cleveland would threaten to respond in the home half of the inning. Encarnacion flied to left against reliever Blaine Boyer and Yonder Alonso struck out. Rajai Davis singled to right, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error by Butera to put the tying run 90 feet away. Perez worked a walk to put runners on the corners, but Zimmer lined out to first to leave the game a 1-0 contest.
Bauer returned for the eight and pitched a perfect inning before Tyler Olson did the same in the ninth. But the Indians offense could not overcome the solo shot by Duda, as Lindor was erased on a caught stealing after his eighth inning single and in the ninth, Kelvin Herrera retired the side in order for the save and the win for the Royals.
Kennedy was aggressive in the strike zone throughout the day and continued his strong start to the season with six scoreless innings of work. He allowed four hits and did not issue a walk while striking out eight Cleveland hitters to earn his first win of the year. He threw 75 strikes out of 101 pitches overall and was first pitch strike to 18 of the 22 hitters that he faced.
BAUER BIG IN DEFEAT
Bauer took his first loss of the season despite another well pitched effort. He allowed just a run on three hits over eight innings, striking out seven batters and walking a pair. It would be the one costly pitch to Duda that proved to be too much for the Indians offense to overcome as their woes at the plate continued.
Bauer threw 100 pitches in eight, including 67 for strikes. He was able to get the Royals to make a move at the plate in three pitches or less for a good chunk of the afternoon, which may have been aided by the cold temperatures in Cleveland. The mercury led to some statements by Bauer after the game.
“First pitch of the inning, coming out, I tried to get loose, but with the new Rob Manfred time BS, we have only a certain amount of time between innings, it’s hard to get loose sometimes, especially in conditions like that. It’s not safe, but, whatever,” shared Bauer. “I was like, ‘Look, I’ll take the fine if I need to, but I’m not going to put myself at risk and I’m not going to put the team at risk of me having exactly what happened happen’. Throw a pitch that you’re not ready to compete on because you’re still trying to get loose and it gets hit over the fence, and we lose because of it. Not because of it, but it was a contributing factor.
“Since I don’t cheat like a lot of guys and put stuff on my hand, just grab the ball and throw it, my pitches were somewhat inconsistent,” continued Bauer. “It’s like a cue ball. It slips out of your hand. But, it is what it is. It’s worse for the hitters. I was looking forward to it. I thought I pitched pretty well overall.”
CHISENHALL’S CALF FLARES UP IN COLD
Lonnie Chisenhall started the day in right field and was getting a great deal of activity to help him stay warm, but while running to make one of those catches in the second inning, his right calf started barking and he will wind up on the disabled list. Chisenhall missed some time in spring with the calf issue and almost two months of last season.
He was replaced in the lineup by Davis.
Tyler Naquin is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Columbus, just days after being optioned out to create room on the roster for Brantley’s return.
The Indians and Royals will once again be battling each other and the elements on Sunday as the two teams meet for a 1:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field. Cleveland will call on Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who was great in a victory over the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the week. He owns a 3-0 mark against the Royals in his career with a 2.42 ERA. Right-hander Jason Hammel (0-1, 9.00) will go for the Royals. He allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings in a loss to open the season. He went 3-2 against the Indians last season.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images