Bauer Pitches Like All-Star, Bullpen Like Trash; Reds 7, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 10, Jul 2018
When you recap 162 games a season at a minimum, you kind of feel as though you see everything that can happen. Generally amidst the highs and lows of a long season, you may get a few firsts, you may see some stories that are a lot of fun to script, and a few others still that are absolute torture to relive.
But then this game – Tuesday, July 10 – happened. For the first time in more than a decade, the Cleveland Indians blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning. And it was not just the fact that it occurred, because in professional sports strange and unpredictable things can happen. It was the way that everything transpired that made the Tribe’s 7-4 shocking loss to the Cincinnati Reds all the more difficult to digest.
So, the short version is the Indians got eight innings of All-Star worthy numbers from Trevor Bauer and two big first inning home runs from repeat All-Stars Francisco Lindor (his 24th) and Jose Ramirez (his 25th). Two more runs scored in the bottom of the second inning against Sal Romano when Jason Kipnis walked and Tyler Naquin doubled to start the inning and a run scored on an error at third by Eugenio Suarez on a grounder by Roberto Perez. Greg Allen sacrificed the runners up and Lindor drove in his second run in as many innings with a grounder to second, making it a 4-0 game.
For eight innings, the Tribe deserved the win, even after Romano settled down to retire 15 straight batters after the onslaught in the first two frames. Cleveland got two on in the seventh and two more on in the eighth and even had a leadoff single in the ninth from Naquin, but could do no more damage against Cincinnati.
Bauer worked eight innings and turned the game over in a non-save situation to Cody Allen after firing 111 pitches on the night. Allen started the final frame looking to be in good shape, going 0-2 to All-Star Scooter Gennett before plunking him with a curveball. Suarez reached on an infield single off of the glove of a diving Ramirez at third. Allen struck out Jesse Winker on a 2-2 knuckle-curve in for the first out and got Tucker Barnhart to fly out to the wall in left for the second out, but then things dramatically unraveled. Jose Peraza pinch-hit and blooped in a single just past Yonder Alonso in shallow right, scoring Gennett to put runners on the corners. Adam Duvall pinch-hit for Billy Hamilton and doubled to deep center, scoring both runners to make it 4-3. Scott Schebler was intentionally walked and Allen lost Dilson Herrera to load the bases.
Manager Terry Francona exited the dugout, but unbeknownst to him, it would be right-hander Dan Otero to emerge from the bullpen gates to face the left-handed Joey Votto and not southpaw Oliver Perez. Otero and Votto fought the count full over the first six pitches before Votto blasted a bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center to put the Reds on top, 6-4. Gennett returned to the plate for his second at bat of the inning and was intentionally walked before Suarez singled to right, scoring Votto before Gennett was caught between second and third to end the inning.
Raisel Iglesias allowed the single by Naquin to start the ninth, then struck out Perez and Allen before getting a weak dribbler back to the mound from Lindor as the Indians limped off of the field with a crushing loss and to the tune of boos from the disappointed hometown crowd.
The Reds have now won 16 of their last 22 games and improved to 41-51 on the year. The Indians fell to 49-41 and have now lost two straight series.
AN UNMISTAKEABLE MISTAKE AKA MISSING MICKEY
While Otero had held Votto hitless in six career plate appearances previously (with a walk, a strikeout, and a hit by pitch), the splits have not favored the Tribe right-hander against lefties this season and the professional hitter and former MVP made him pay for the mistake that occurred well before Otero took the mound.
Francona owned his role in an error that is hard to fathom in an age of such advanced technology, as the lefty Perez (“OP”) was the man that he expected to emerge from the center field gate.
“[Pitching coach] Carl [Willis] thought I said “OT”. That one lands squarely on me,” explained Francona during a tough post-game presser. “There’s no getting around it. I’ve got to be responsible for that. When I saw [Otero] coming through the gate, again it’s not that I don’t think he can pitch, it’s just not the guy I was expecting. I know Carl is beating himself up right now. But that one lands on me.”
With plenty of coaches around in the dugout and in the bullpen who were aware of the events unfolding rapidly on the field before them, it is a head scratcher that no one suggested that Perez warm with the dangerous Votto looming in the short distance between the Reds’ dugout and the left-handed batter’s box.
To be fair, Votto is 4-for-13 (.308) in his career against Perez with a homer and six RBI, but he has struck out in six of the 14 lifetime trips to the plate against him.
BAUER DESERVED BETTER
Bauer post-game press conferences are generally an interesting display, and Tuesday’s was no different as his displeasure at the final outcome of the contest could be seen clearly in his body language and heard in his carefully thought out discussion with the media.
The first-time All-Star, making his first start since being recognized on Sunday, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and would allow just three hits over eight innings. He did walk four batters, but he was once again a strikeout machine, setting down 12 Reds hitters on strikes, including Schebler and Suarez three times.
“You could tell he watched the game last night,” said Francona, singing praises for Bauer’s preparedness and efforts, despite the team’s end results. “He came out throwing a lot more off-speed pitches. With that, got a ton of swing and miss. I thought he was really good.”
MORE ON BAUER
Bauer’s approach throughout the game helped to minimize any potential damage that could have been caused by the extra base runners surrendered on the free pass.
“Breaking balls and some fastballs in upset their aggressiveness a bit,” shared Bauer after the loss. “When teams are aggressive like that, there are ways to beat it. I have enough weapons in my arsenal that I can change things up a little bit and do that.”
It marked the eighth game this season for Bauer with ten strikeouts or more, matching him with Boston’s Chris Sale for the second-most in the Majors. It was his ninth straight start with eight strikeouts or more, the second-longest streak in franchise history (Bob Feller). His 168 strikeouts on the year are the most by an Indians pitcher before the All-Star break since Sam McDowell struck out 183 in 1970. (factoids courtesy of Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio
ROMANO MAKES A DEEP START
Romano recovered after the mess that occurred in the first two innings to make his longest start in nearly a month and just his third this season of 100 pitches or more. He worked seven and one-third innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits with a pair of walks and just one strikeout. He retired 15 in a row after the Indians padded their lead in the second inning and he got some help from former Indians reliever Kyle Crockett, who retired the final two outs of the eighth inning with a pair on base, needing just six pitches to get the job done. His efforts earned him his first win of the season.
Prior to the game, the Indians placed right-hander Josh Tomlin on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. In a corresponding roster move, Adam Plutko was recalled from Triple-A Columbus and re-inserted into the bullpen.
The Indians also learned that Lonnie Chisenhall is expected to miss eight to ten weeks with a Grade 3 left calf strain after he received the results of his second opinion. Tyler Olson and Ryan Merritt are inching closer to rejoining the club from their current rehab assignments.
NOT HAVING FUN WITH NUMBERS
Courtesy of Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio:
The last time the Reds came back from a four-run deficit in the ninth inning of a ball game was June 30, 2006, with Adam Dunn delivering the walk-off grand slam off of Bob Wickman to complete their five-run comeback, 9-8, from Great American Ball Park. Wickman started the inning in a non-save situation with a four-run lead.
The last time the Indians lost a four-run lead in the ninth inning and lost the game was April 19, 2007, when the home New York Yankees rallied for six runs in the ninth to shock the Tribe, 8-6. Alex Rodriguez won that contest with a three-run walk-off home run off of closer Joe Borowski, who like Allen and Wickman had entered in a non-save situation with a four-run ninth inning lead.
SALVAGE THE SERIES
The Indians will look to end their four-game losing streak on Wednesday night in a 7:10 PM ET contest with the Reds. Carlos Carrasco (9-5, 4.28 ERA) will make his second start off of the disabled list. He earned a win in that outing over the Oakland A’s, working five and one-third innings of three-run baseball. Young right-hander Tyler Mahle (7-6, 3.66) will counter with his first career start against Cleveland. He has been on a tear since the beginning of June, posting a 4-0 record with a 2.04 ERA in that span.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images