Trevor Bauer struck out ten Tigers batters and Cody Allen finished a five-hit shutout of Detroit on Wednesday as the Cleveland Indians avoided a sweep with a 6-0 victory on getaway day from Comerica Park.
Coming off of his worst start of the year, Bauer was unhittable at times and used a healthy diet of tough breaking pitches to contain a Tigers lineup that had scored six unanswered runs the night before to upset the Indians to earn a series win. Bauer gave the Tribe eight strong innings on the mound and could have gone back out for the complete game in the ninth, had it not been for the need to get the closer Allen some work in after not appearing on the mound over the last three days.
The Indians got their first look at 27-year-old left-hander Ryan Carpenter, recalled by the Tigers from Triple-A Toledo to make the start on Wednesday. Cleveland greeted him quickly as the club took an early lead.
Rajai Davis, hitting in the leadoff spot for the second straight game, singled to short on the second pitch of the afternoon and moved to third on a single to center by Michael Brantley. The Indians took the lead on a grounder by Jose Ramirez that turned into a throwing error on Carpenter, allowing Davis to score with ease, Brantley to move to third, and Ramirez to settle in at second. A sacrifice fly from Francisco Lindor pushed Brantley across to make it a 2-0 game before Carpenter retired Brandon Guyer and Yonder Alonso.
Bauer dominated early on. He struck out Nicholas Castellanos to end the first, then started the second with back-to-back Ks of Niko Goodrum and John Hicks. He retired the bottom of the lineup in order to end the third, and the offense got back to work against Carpenter.
A Lindor single to left kicked off the fourth frame and a walk by Guyer moved Lindor into scoring position. Alonso grounded back to Carpenter, who turned a 1-6-3 double play, leaving Lindor standing at third with two outs. The bottom of the order then came through for the Tribe, as Erik Gonzalez singled home Lindor to make it 3-0. Jason Kipnis doubled Gonzalez home with the fourth run, and a Roberto Perez RBI-single to center made it a 5-0 Cleveland lead.
Bauer struck out his fourth batter midway through the bottom of the fourth and ended the inning with 12 straight batters retired to start his afternoon. Brantley then gave him a little more breathing room, jumping on a first pitch fastball from Carpenter and sending it over the wall in right to extend the Indians’ edge to six runs.
Bauer gave up his first hit of the game in the fifth, as Goodrum singled to right to lead off the inning. He was eliminated on a double play ball from Hicks, and a strikeout of Mikie Mahtook had Bauer still at the minimum through five. He would have his toughest battle of the game in the sixth, when Grayson Greiner doubled to right-center to start the inning and Jose Iglesias reached on an infield single to Lindor. With two on and nobody out, Dixon Machado grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second and Bauer struck out Victor Reyes and Pete Kozma to end the inning.
The right-hander struck out two more in the seventh and added his tenth strikeout of the game in the eighth, following a leadoff single by Mahtook but before Iglesias grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Allen took the ninth, making his first appearance since May 12 against Kansas City. He gave up a single to start the inning to Machado before striking out Reyes, Kozma, and Castellanos all swinging to end the game, giving the Tribe a 6-0 win while avoiding a dreaded sweep.
“We certainly needed that,” said manager Terry Francona of the outing from his pitchers on Wednesday. “We wanted to pitch Cody, because he hadn’t pitched in three days and we have the day off tomorrow, but we got to stay away from everybody else and let them take a deep breath.”
The Indians (21-21) pulled back to the .500 mark on the season and are now 8-12 on the road, with two more stops on their current road trip. The Tigers (19-23) fell back to two games behind the Indians in the AL Central and are now 12-10 at Comerica Park this season.
BAUER STEPS UP BIG
Bauer was hit hard in his last outing, giving up eleven hits to the Kansas City Royals in a no-decision. He would find himself in the opposite situation on Wednesday afternoon, as he limited the Tigers to just four hits in eight innings of work. Even more important for the right-hander, he did not issue a free pass for the first time this season (having walked two batters in three games and three batters in his other five starts). He also racked up ten strikeouts on the day and improved to 3-3 on the season.
His eight scoreless innings of work lowered his season ERA to 2.59.
CARPENTER DOING WORK
Making his second Major League start, Carpenter was going to eat up innings as best that he could to preserve the Tigers bullpen before hitting the road for Seattle. He hung on for five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits. He walked one batter and did not register a strikeout.
Artie Lewicki saved the bullpen with four innings of three-hit shutout baseball, striking out four and walking one. Like Carpenter, he was recalled from Triple-A Toledo prior to the game, while infielder Dawel Lugo and right-hander Zac Reininger were both optioned to the minors.
NO ED E
Edwin Encarnacion was a scratch again from the Indians lineup on Wednesday. He is still bothered by neck and back soreness felt after hitting a double in Monday night’s loss.
RBI RACE AT THE TOP OF THE ORDER
As the offense has picked up in the month of May, so has a fun battle between Brantley, Lindor, and Ramirez for the top spot on the team’s RBI leaderboard.
Ramirez maintained his small lead over Brantley, as his first inning RBI on Carpenter’s throwing error was matched later by Brantley’s solo homer. Ramirez is ninth in the AL with 30 RBI on the year, while Brantley is tied for 13th with 28. Lindor is right behind him with 27, tied for 18th in the league.
Brantley’s 18 RBI in May are tops on the club, two ahead of Lindor.
The Indians announced prior to the game on Wednesday that the club had come to an agreement on a minor league pact with free agent reliever Matt Belisle, who had been designated for assignment and outrighted by the team earlier in the month. He will report to Triple-A Columbus.
LONE STAR STATE OF MIND
The Tigers will immediately head to the Pacific Northwest, where they will start a four-game weekend series with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night. The Indians will take Thursday off before starting a difficult three-game series against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros over the weekend. Mike Clevinger will be the first man to the bump for the Tribe, followed by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco over the weekend.
Following is the third of three trivia questions from Monday morning’s series preview of the matchup between the Indians and Tigers.
This Detroit native spent his first eight big league seasons in Detroit and was named an All-Star in 1950 before he missed a year due to military service. He was traded to the Indians in 1953 and spent parts of five years with the club, becoming one of the main starting pitchers for Cleveland during their franchise-best 111-win season, joining rotation mates Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, and Bob Feller.
Who am I? – Art Houtteman
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