Bauer’s 12 Ks Help Lead Tribe to Victory; Indians 5, Royals 3

Trevor Bauer looked like the pitcher of old as he whiffed 12 Kansas City batters over six and two-thirds innings to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 5-3 win in the rubber match with the Royals on Wednesday afternoon.

Bauer’s mixed numbers this season looked to be in the rearview Wednesday as the Indians claimed another series win, continuing an impressive month of June. The team moved back to a season-high eight games over the .500 mark at 44-36 with a win in the club’s final home game before the All-Star break and improved to 16-7 in the month with an encouraging +41 run differential (126 runs scored versus 85 runs allowed).

Bauer took a no-hitter into the fifth inning with some dominating results against a familiar foe in the Royals. He struck out a batter in the first, two in the second, and two more in the third around his first base runner allowed, a hit by pitch of catcher Cam Gallagher. He had the strikeout working to perfection in the fourth, when he struck out the side swinging.

Lindor & Kipnis – Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)

The Indians gave Bauer an early lead to protect. Francisco Lindor started the Tribe’s offense for the day with a leadoff single in the first off of Jakob Junis. After a fly out by Oscar Mercado, Lindor stole second and moved to third on a single to left by Carlos Santana. Jason Kipnis kept his recent contributions going with a sacrifice fly to center, driving in the first run of the afternoon.

Junis hit a batter in an otherwise quiet second, but got back into trouble quickly in the third as Lindor got to him a second time leading off an inning, this time with a double to right. Mercado followed Lindor’s hit with his own to right, singling home his teammate to make it a 2-0 Indians lead. A double play ball by Santana short-circuited the rally, even with Kipnis reaching on a single to right with two outs.

The Tribe doubled its pleasure in the fourth to take a commanding lead. Jake Bauers hit home run number ten to lead off the inning, sending a four-seamer to right for a souvenir. After Bobby Bradley and Roberto Perez both struck out, Tyler Naquin exited stage right, parking Junis’ payoff pitch 418 feet to right for his second homer in as many days, giving Cleveland a 4-0 edge.

The Royals scratched across a run in the fifth with a two-out tally. Bauer recorded a strikeout for the fifth straight inning before Humberto Arteaga singled to right. A single by Gallagher moved the runner to second and a double from Billy Hamilton plated the runner to make it 4-1. Whit Merrifield grounded back to Bauer to strand two runners in scoring position.

Junis handled the fifth and sixth in quieter fashion than the previous innings, issuing a walk to Jose Ramirez with two down in the fifth and getting a double play to erase a one-out single by Perez before getting Naquin to ground to second with his final out of the day.

Bauer struck out Hunter Dozier to end an eleven-pitch top half of the sixth and returned to the mound for the seventh. He hit Jorge Soler up and in on an offspeed pitch before striking out Lucas Duda and Arteaga. Gallagher reached for the third time on the day with a six-pitch walk, bringing manager Terry Francona out of the dugout to retrieve his starter after a season-high 127 pitches lobbed. Nick Goody got Hamilton to pop to short to strand the pair.

Tim Hill retired the side in order in the seventh but ran into trouble with the Tribe lineup in the eighth. Kipnis grounded back to the mound, but Hill’s throw to Cheslor Cuthbert at first was wild for an error, allowing the Indians second baseman to move to second. Ramirez walked again before Bauers grounded into a force at second. Jordan Luplow, pinch-hitting for Bradley, wasted no time in his first trip to the batter’s box, sending the first pitch he saw from the left-hander into right field for an RBI-single, putting the Indians up, 5-1.

Goody turned the game over after giving up two hits in the eighth, but getting a big caught stealing of Merrifield to quiet any rally attempts from the Royals. With Brad Hand unavailable after pitching in five of the previous six games and the game no longer a save situation, Francona turned to Nick Wittgren to get the final three outs. Wittgren got them, but with a little drama in between. He struck out Soler to open the ninth, but Duda homered to right to make it 5-2. Arteaga doubled to right and pinch-hitter Alex Gordon singled to left-center to make it 5-3. With the tying run at the plate, Hamilton struck out looking for the second out and Merrifield struck out swinging for the final out.

The Royals fell to 28-53 with the loss. Junis dropped to 4-7 on the year, as he allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts over six innings of work.

Bauers – Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Bauer moved back to the .500 mark at 6-6 with just his second win since the end of April. He kept the Royals off base and therefore unable to do much as he gave up just one run on three hits with a walk and 12 strikeouts over six and two-thirds innings. He again was able to keep the ball on the ground, avoiding some of the long ball issues of previous starts. Just two outs of the 20 outs that he retired came in the air.

“From the first pitch of the game, he looked so much more like Trevor,” said Francona. “All his pitches crisp. Velocity. When you’ve got a guy who can pitch over 120 and that’s the hardest pitch of the day, that’s saying something.”

Bauer acknowledged after the game that some physical issues have affected his velocity and movement at times this season. He received a standing ovation from the hometown faithful and gave a tip of the cap to the crowd before entering the dugout.

Eight of nine Indians in the starting lineup reached base safely, with Bradley going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. Ramirez was held hitless to move his average to .216, but he drew the only two Indians walks on the day. Bauers ended a hitless drought with his home run, while Naquin hit his sixth blast of the season. Lindor went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double to push his batting average back up to .298. He scored a pair of runs on the day.

Arteaga was 2-for-4 for the Royals with a pair of runs scored and two strikeouts. Dozier earned himself the Golden Sombrero, striking out in all four plate appearances one day after hitting the game-winning grand slam in the top of the ninth Tuesday off of Hand.

The Indians will take Thursday off (one of three off days for the club between now and the All-Star break) before opening a three-game series in Baltimore this weekend against the Orioles. The Royals will continue their road trip with a stop in Toronto against the Blue Jays.

Mike Clevinger is expected to make the start for the Indians on Friday night in the opener with the O’s, with a corresponding roster move needed to activate him from the 10-day injured list. Left-hander John Means is scheduled to pitch for Baltimore in the 7:05 PM ET start.

Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images

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