Trevor Bauer went the distance for the third time in his career on Sunday, firing his first professional shutout in a four-hit 8-0 gem over the Detroit Tigers from Comerica Park.
Needing to pick up their play against the American League Central Division, the Cleveland Indians (37-33) did that this weekend in securing a series sweep over the fourth place Tigers, moving to 5-1 on the year against their divisional foe. They did so in fairly dominating fashion to boot, outscoring the host club 25-6 in a series highlighted by impressive starting pitching and a healthy offensive contribution from Cleveland.
Bauer did not need much help on Sunday as he handled the Tigers with relative ease. He scattered four hits and, probably even more encouraging, allowed no free passes on the day (after walking five in his outing on Tuesday against Cincinnati). While he may not have needed much assistance from his teammates, they did provide him with a steady stream of run support and the bulk of it came from two main figures.
The Indians gave Bauer a lead before he even reported to the mound. After Francisco Lindor lost a ten-pitch battle to open the afternoon against Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, Oscar Mercado grounded to short. The two-out rally took over for the Tribe as back-to-back two-base hits from Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis gave the Indians an early lead.
Bauer allowed a single to Nicholas Castellanos with two down in the first before pitching himself out of a jam in the second in the 1-0 game. Harold Castro opened the inning with a shot to the right-center gap that went for a triple. Gordon Beckham flied to left, not deep enough to get the run in. John Hicks grounded back to the mound for the second out and Bauer struck out Bobby Wilson swinging to end the threat.
As seems to be the case after a close shave, the offense got to work in a big way in the third for Cleveland. With one down, Lindor doubled to right. He scored on a single by Mercado to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Mercado stole second before tagging up to third on a fly ball to center by Santana. That proved to be inconsequential as Kipnis added to his daily RBI total with a two-run blast to right. His third of the year doubled the Indians lead to 4-0.
Bauer had a 1-2-3 third before the Indians bats got back to work. Jake Bauers reached on an infield single, but he was caught in no-man’s land on an infield single by Roberto Perez. Tyler Naquin doubled to right, moving Perez to third. Leonys Martin struck out swinging and Lindor was walked intentionally to set up force plays, but it did not matter as Mercado sent the next pitch back into right field for a two-run single, making it a 6-0 game.
Bauer pitched a second straight 1-2-3 inning in the fourth before Wilson doubled to left with two outs. Bauer left him there as Dawel Lugo grounded to short to end the inning.
One of the day’s two big RBI sources delivered again in the top of the sixth as the Indians faced former Cleveland reliever Austin Adams, on after five frames from Turnbull. Adams walked Martin with one out, but struck out Lindor for the second out. An aggressive plate approach from Mercado continued as he pounced on a second-pitch four-seamer and drove it to left for an double, scoring Martin on the play to make it 7-0 Tribe. He was stranded on a strikeout by Santana.
Bauer extended his stretch of dominance on the mound with a perfect sixth, making it 15 of 16 straight batters retired since the Castro triple in the second.
Adams started the seventh for Detroit, but after getting Kipnis to ground to second, he put three straight on as Jose Ramirez walked, Bauers singled to center, and Perez singled to right to load the bases. Left-hander Daniel Stumpf came on to face Naquin, but the Tribe left-handed hitter was able to get some air under the ball with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 8-0. Martin grounded out to end the rally.
Bauer worked around a two-out double by Beckham after the stretch, the Tigers’ fourth hit of the afternoon. It was to be the last Detroit runner to reach, as Bauer got Hicks on a fly to right before retiring the side in order in the next two innings, with two strikeouts in the eighth and one more for the final out of the ninth to end his first career Major League shutout.
Bauer’s gem included 117 pitches, eight strikeouts, four hits allowed, and no walks. The win moved him to 5-6 on the season and ended a personal five-game losing streak. Already the American League leader in batters faced this season, he toppled over the 100-innings pitched mark after his first two outs retired and has now faced 451 batters on the year. The complete game marked his first since 2016 and just the third of his career.
“Any time you go out there and throw nine innings and don’t give up any runs, you’re doing a lot of things right,” said manager Terry Francona of Bauer’s effort. “Early in the game, he pitched around that leadoff triple, which at the time, it’s a 1-0 game. From there, we got him some runs and he really settled in.
“The more he follows Roberto [Perez], the better he’s going to be. His stuff is so good, and Roberto does such a good job of reading hitters and swings. If Trevor will throw with conviction and follow Roberto, he’ll be just fine.”
Turnbull, coming off of a quality outing on Tuesday against Kansas City, was not able to replicate his six shutout innings of four-hit ball performance against the Royals in that last start. He lasted five against the Tribe, charged with six runs on ten hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The loss moved him to 3-6 on the year while his ERA jumped from 2.78 to 3.27.
Mercado and Kipnis carried the Tribe offense on a day that saw Lindor strike out three times and Santana get cut down twice. Mercado went 3-for-4 and reached base a fourth time via walk. He scored one run, but drove in four. He is now hitting .306 on the season. Kipnis had a much-needed day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a run scored and three runs batted in. Eight of nine Indians starters scored, with Bauers the lone exception after a two-hit, one-walk performance of his own.
The Indians will hit the road following the game to head to Texas, where the team will play four games with the Rangers (38-32), who hold a half-game edge on Cleveland for the second American League Wild Card spot. Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will be activated from the 60-day injured list by the Indians to make the start on Monday night, while the Rangers will send out Lance Lynn (7-4, 4.40 ERA).
Game time from Arlington is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET on Monday.
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images