Bauer Unhittable for 7, Hand Loses No-Hit Bid Late in Victory; Indians 4, Jays 1
Bob Toth | On 04, Apr 2019
The Indians flirted with history on Thursday night but fell just short as Trevor Bauer threw seven no-hit innings and the offense added some rare support, but Toronto ended Cleveland’s no-hit bid in the ninth inning as the Tribe defeated the visiting Blue Jays by a 4-1 final from Progressive Field.
Bauer’s brilliant start to the 2019 season continued as he has already made an early case for his name to be mentioned amongst the best in baseball this year. After allowing just a run on a hit with one walk and nine strikeouts in a no-decision on March 30 against the Minnesota Twins, he followed it up with a hitless outing in which the only blemish was his six walks that drove up his pitch count and prevented him from completing his attempt at the first Indians no-hitter since 1981 (a drought of nearly 38 years and the second-longest active to only the San Diego Padres, which have never recorded one).
After seven no-hit innings from Bauer, manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for right-hander Jon Edwards, looking to protect a 4-0 lead and bring home the no-hitter. He struck out Socrates Brito on three pitches, but lost the zone on a diet of sliders and walked Randal Grichuk. Rowdy Tellez was hit by the next pitch, but Edwards bounced back to strike out Danny Jansen swinging for the second out. The topsy-turvy inning for Edwards continued as he walked Billy McKinney on five pitches to load the bases, bringing Francona out of the dugout for closer Brad Hand. He got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pop to second to end the rally and protect the no-hitter.
Hand returned for the ninth to close out the game, but on the sixth pitch of his battle with former teammate Freddy Galvis, the Blue Jays’ shortstop ended the suspense by blooping a single to right-center out of the reach of a leaping Brad Miller at second. Alen Hanson singled to left and, after a strikeout looking by Brandon Drury, pinch-hitter Teoscar Hernandez doubled to the left field corner to end the shutout while bringing the tying run to the plate with only one down. Hand showed his All-Star form after that, getting back-to-back strikeouts of Grichuk and Tellez to end the ball game.
The Indians improved to 3-3 on the year and 2-1 at Progressive Field. The Blue Jays fell to 3-5 on the season with their first road game and road loss of 2019.
Bauer matched up with tough Toronto hurler Aaron Sanchez in the opener of a four-game set between the two clubs and both right-handers looked in control in the first couple of innings. Things changed in the third, but no damage was done.
Bauer had retired the first five in order before a two-out walk in the second of McKinney. He got out of that inning unscathed, but had to work far harder in a messy third. Galvis drew a six-pitch walk and Hanson was hit by a 1-2 slider. Drury loaded the bases with his own six-pitch walk, but Bauer buckled down to strike out Brito and Grichuk swinging before Tellez lined out to center.
The Indians’ own mini-rally was thwarted by Sanchez in the bottom half of the inning. Tyler Naquin reached on a one-out single. Eric Stamets struck out for the second out, but Leonys Martin singled to center to put two on and extend the inning. Jose Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Bauer retired the side in order in the fourth and the Indians finally got on the board. Back-to-back singles from Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana put two on and Miller worked a walk to load the bases. Greg Allen grounded to first, with Miller forced at second, but Bauers scored on the play to give Cleveland the lead. Two pitches later, Roberto Perez lofted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Santana, before Naquin flied out to end the threat.
Pitching with the lead, Bauer walked Galvis to start the fifth, but got the next three in order. The Indians added two more base runners against Sanchez in the home half on a single by Martin and a walk by Bauers, but Santana grounded out to end the inning. The Indians’ starter needed 13 pitches to get through the sixth, walking Jansen with two outs, but he had to dig deep in the seventh, when he struck out three and walked one, but needed 20 pitches to get through the frame.
The Indians opened the game up after the stretch. Naquin doubled to left and moved to third on a sacrifice by Stamets, who reached safely on a throwing error by Tim Mayza. Martin walked to load the bases and Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to deep right to make it 3-0. Bauers struck out swinging and Santana was intentionally walked to reload the bases, which proved costly as Mayza walked Miller on five pitches to force home another run. Sam Gaviglio was summoned from the bullpen and got Allen to foul out to third to leave the bases full of Indians, but with Cleveland on top by a 4-0 tally.
BIG NIGHT FROM BAUER
When Bauer walked off of the mound after the seventh inning, he yelled loudly to himself just after crossing the foul line, fully aware of his missed chance at history on Thursday. With seven no-hit innings under his belt, eight strikeouts, and an unfortunate six walks, Bauer was sitting on 117 pitches (75 strikes) with the Indians holding a 2-0 lead.
While there could have been some consideration by Francona to roll with his unhittable starter, the manager had his mind made up before the offense added on two more runs to double their lead to 4-0.
“He was coming out, we made the decision right when the inning was over,” said Francona. “He was tremendous. I didn’t want to take him out. He said he knew it was the right thing. I told him, ‘I hate it’ and he goes ‘I hate it, too’, but I know it’s the right thing. I care too much about him and this organization to hurt somebody. I would have loved to have seen it, because I don’t doubt that he would have kept pitching and probably not given up a hit the way he was throwing. I just have an obligation to do the right thing, even when it’s not the funnest [sic] thing to do.”
Bauer’s effort on Thursday is tied for the longest no-hit bid by an Indians pitcher in Progressive Field history, matching Cliff Lee’s seven no-hit innings on June 14, 2009, against the St. Louis Cardinals. He also moved past Addie Joss for 13th place on the Indians’ all-time strikeouts list.
Bauer has now worked 14 innings on the season and has allowed one run on one hit with seven walks, two hit batters, and 17 strikeouts.
According to David Schoenfield of ESPN, Bauer’s no-hitter into the sixth was the fourth time the Jays have been held hitless through the first five innings this season.
If something felt familiar about Bauer getting pulled with a no-hit bid on the line, you remember correctly.
During Bauer’s first start of the 2015 season (Thursday, April 9, in Houston against the Astros), Bauer worked six scoreless and hitless innings against current Columbus Clipper, Asher Wojciechowski. With 111 pitches after six due to five walks and a then career-high eleven strikeouts, Bauer got the hook.
The Indians, who have not thrown a combined no-hitter in franchise history, attempted the task. Kyle Crockett pitched a hitless seventh inning, walking one and striking out a pair. Old man Scott Atchison worked the eighth and protected the no-no, walking one and striking out one.
In the ninth, Francona went to left-hander Nick Hagadone. After striking out slugger Chris Carter on six pitches, Jed Lowrie stepped in and lined an 0-1 pitch over the left-center field wall at Minute Maid Park for a solo home run, ending the no-hit bid and shutout on one swing. Hagadone got Jonathan Villar to pop out before striking out Hank Conger swinging on three straight to finish the ball game, a 5-1 win for Bauer and the Tribe, but another missed opportunity for the Indians to end their long no-hit drought.
QUALITY WORK FROM SANCHEZ
It was a tough luck loss for Sanchez, who gave the Blue Jays a quality effort in his second straight strong start to open the year. He worked six innings, allowing a pair of runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Cleveland third baseman Ramirez was lifted from the game after the bottom of the seventh inning and replaced by Max Moroff. The Indians announced in the ninth inning that Ramirez was pulled for precautionary reasons with a left foot contusion sustained after fouling a ball off the previous half inning.
The Indians and Jays will resume their series on Friday night in a 7:10 PM ET first pitch.
Right-hander Shane Bieber will make his first start of the season for the Indians and his second appearance overall in the second game of four between the two clubs. The 23-year-old allowed a run on two with in two innings of work against the Minnesota Twins in his debut on March 31. Toronto will call on right-hander Trent Thornton. The 25-year-old made his Major League debut on March 31 against Detroit, allowing two hits over five shutout innings with no walks and eight strikeouts in a no-decision.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak