Bauer Bends, Does Not Break in Tribe Win; Indians 7, Marlins 4

Trevor Bauer survived some early troubles, aided by defensive miscues, and was provided with a key four-run third inning as the Cleveland Indians guaranteed at least a season split with the Miami Marlins with a 7-4 win on Tuesday night.

The Indians closed out the first full month of April by getting back into the win column to end the opening stretch of the season with a 16-12 mark. They needed a big third inning to support their starter, who provided seven innings of work after some early damage by the opposing Marlins (8-21).

Santana & Kipnis – Eric Espada/Getty Images

Cleveland fell behind three batters into the bottom of the first. With one out, Martin Prado doubled to the gap in left-center for the first hit of the game as Jake Bauers could not make a sliding stop on the ball. Brian Anderson chased him home with a single up the gut past Francisco Lindor.

Carlos Santana evened up the contest with a response run in the second. After working the count to 2-2 against young right-hander Sandy Alcantara, Santana pummeled a curveball to the second deck in right for career home run number 201, making it a 1-1 game. The Tribe was not done though, as Carlos Gonzalez walked. Jason Kipnis dropped down a bunt against the shifted infield and Alcantara’s throw to first was wild, allowing both runners to move into scoring position. Bauers lofted a fly to foul ground in shallow left, but Gonzalez tested the arm of Curtis Granderson and scored easily to make it a 2-1 Tribe lead.

Bauer was unable to protect his first lead of the game as the Marlins struck back for two more runs in the bottom of the frame. After a strikeout to start the inning, Bauer walked Miguel Rojas and then moved the runner to second on a wild pitch. Isaac Galloway grounded to short, but Lindor opted to try to cut down the lead runner at third and threw high to Jose Ramirez, allowing Rojas to slide in safely. With runners at the corners and only one down, Alcantara dropped down a sacrifice to third. Rojas inched down the line and with no one protecting third base, Ramirez fired a delayed throw to first to cut down the Marlins pitcher, but Rojas slipped across the plate easily to tie the game at two. Granderson walked to put two on the bases for Prado, who singled in the go-ahead run before a fielder’s choice force at second ended the inning.

The Indians responded again with a big inning and a first in the third to reclaim the lead. Lindor led off the Tribe’s trip to the plate with a single to right. After he stole second, Ramirez hit a dribbler towards Prado at third. He fielded the ball cleanly but his transfer to his throwing hand failed, allowing runners to settle in on the corners. Santana stepped in and added a second hit and RBI in the first three innings with a sharp single to center to tie the game at three. CarGo stepped in and delivered the deciding blow, driving a 1-0 change over the wall in right for the Indians’ first three-run home run of the year, putting Cleveland up 6-3.

CarGo – Eric Espada/Getty Images

Bauer hit a batter in the third, but for the first time on the night, he kept the Marlins off of the scoreboard. In the fourth, Miami pulled a little closer as Granderson yanked a 1-0 fastball down the right field line for his fourth home run of the year, making it a 6-4 game.

The Indians left runners against Alcantara through the middle innings, but could not score. They added an insurance run in the top of the eighth against Tyler Kinley when Bauers reached on an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch, was sacrificed to third by Roberto Perez, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Mike Freeman to give the Tribe the final score of the night in the 7-4 win. Nick Wittgren worked out of a dangerous spot in the bottom of the eighth after a one-out walk by Jorge Alfaro and a two-out single by Rojas with a strikeout of Galloway. Brad Hand pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save of the campaign.

Bauer was disappointed in the outing, acknowledging that his walk totals have not been what he expects them to be. He gave up just four hits over seven innings of work, but put four on via free pass while striking out ten. He was taken out after 105 pitches, his lowest pitch total on the year to date. Despite matching a season-high with four runs allowed, he made it into the seventh inning for the sixth time in seven starts this season and improved to 4-1 with his third straight victory.

“I stink right now,” Bauer shared post-game. “It has been really frustrating, but I’ll figure it out. I’ve got to be better.”

Bauer has walked 23 batters in 47 2/3 innings on the year, leading all of baseball in both figures.

Alcantara was not as effective as his first go round against the Tribe. He worked five and one-third innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits with three walks and just one strikeout. The damage could have been worse for the Marlins pitching staff, but they limited the Indians to a 2-for-10 performance at the plate with runners in scoring position.

The Indians will go for the series sweep on Wednesday afternoon in another 7:10 PM ET first pitch from Marlins Park. Corey Kluber (2-3, 5.88 ERA) will get the start for the Tribe, looking to build on strong interleague numbers over the course of his career. The Marlins will send left-hander Caleb Smith (2-0, 2.17) to the rubber, looking for his third win of the campaign.

Photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images

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