The Indians were playing with house money today, having already assured themselves of at least a split series on the road against a decent team, and having clinched a very successful week that including a sweep of the first-place Tigers. Just because you're on a free roll doesn't mean you don't still want to win though, which made for a disappointing Sunday afternoon.
Trevor Bauer did well in his first two starts for the Indians this year, but today the version of him we've been afraid of made an appearance. He got through the first four innings having allowed two runs, which isn't good, but isn't bad either. One of those two runs was even almost thrown out at the plate, which would have made his line look even better, especially because he recorded 7 strikeouts. I don't think he was pitching well though, because he was throwing way too many pitches, a total of 90 to that point.
With such a high pitch count, he wasn't going to go any deeper than five innings no matter how the 5th inning went. The bullpen was rested though, after Corey Kluber did his thing on Saturday, and heading into the 6th inning with a 2-2 tie and the team's top relievers all available wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world.
Instead of that though, Bauer gave up a home run to Manny Machado to lead off the inning, and then gave up another long ball to Nelson Cruz, that one hit even harder. Sitting on 105 pitches and clearly running on fumes, Bauer was pulled at that point, having given up 4 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks in 4.1 innings.
Bauer has given us a lot to be encouraged about so far this season, between his first two MLB starts and the numbers he posted with Triple-A Columbus. Today was a reminder that despite the adjustments he's worked so hard to make, he's still not a finished product, and it's not going to be just a string of gems from him. There will be days like this.
Mark Lowe, Scott Atchison, and Josh Outman continued the Tribe's strong middle relief work by pitching 3.2 scoreless frames the rest of the way, giving the lineup ample opportunity to come back from the two-run deficit, but the lineup was not up to the challenge. The Indians managed only five hits the entire game, all of them singles. Michael Bourn had two of those hits, while Carlos Santana reached safely three times on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch (raising his OBP to .327, which is above league average), but those were the only "highlights."
Despite the loss, it was a very good week. The Indians fall to 24-27, but that's a lot better than the 19-25 mark they were sporting seven days ago. On the verge of falling out of any sort of contention, the Tribe is now back in the thick of things. They head to Chicago next for a series with the White Sox, at the end of which, the series will be one third of the way over. Jason Kipnis is expected back on Tuesday, which should provide a boost.
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