Indians fall to 64-68
Trevor Bauer's up-and-down season took a major downward turn tonight. In his previous outing he went eight strong innings against a struggling Angels lineup. Tonight he faced the best lineup in baseball, and didn't survive the second inning. He didn't completely implode, but by the time he was pulled he had thrown 44 pitches and had gotten just four outs. The big blow in the contest came when Josh Donaldson drove a pitch that glanced off the wall in left field (just out of the reach of Michael Brantley's glove), plating runs three and four. That would be Bauer's final batter, and in retrospect would place the game out of reach.
Josh Donaldson not only caused havoc at the plate, but on the basepaths as well. He tagged and scored on a ball that Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis caught. The ball in question was popped up into shallow right field, a ball that the right or center fielder would catch, but because the outfielders were playing deep, Kipnis had to make the grab. Donaldson took the chance to score, and when Kipnis' throw pulled Yan Gomes a couple steps up the third base line, Donaldson dove around Gomes' swipe tag and touched the back corner of the plate with a couple fingers. Later in the game, he went to second base on a ball towards the left field line; he made a wide turn, and when Brantley hesitated briefly, took off towards second.
Because of where the Indians were in the standings (five back of Texas for the second Wild Card) and with an off-day tomorrow, Terry Francona was quick to pull the struggling Bauer. He called on Jeff Manship to get the Indians out of the second inning, used Kyle Crockett to face three straight Toronto left-handed hitters, and Austin Adams for 1.2 scoreless innings just to get through five innings. The aggressive use of the bullpen was designed to buy the Indians some innings to mount a comeback, and while the comeback never materialized, the bullpen did an excellent job holding down the Blue Jays. In total, the six Tribe relievers held Toronto scoreless over 7.2 innings, allowing just five base runners.
One of the six relievers used was Gavin Floyd, who had made his back to the big leagues after fracturing his throwing elbow before the season began. Floyd's stuff look very good, with his fastball sitting at 93-94 mph, and his pitches showing late life in the strike zone. Although the situation Floyd entered was low-leverage, the hitters he faced weren't in any way easy outs. He faced Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion in the seventh inning, and retired all three of them in order. Shawn Armstrong, the other pitcher added to the roster on Tuesday, had a messier inning (two hits allowed) but got through the inning unscathed.
The work the bullpen did came in vain, at least as far as the ultimate outcome was concerned, because R.A. Dickey dominated the Indians. If not for a fourth inning run, Dickey would have record a Maddux, as he finished off the Indians on just 92 pitches. Dickey allowed four hits, and remarkably (for a knuckleball pitcher) didn't walk a batter.
The best you could say about this game is that the Indians didn't get blown out by the Jays, who have made a habit of blowing teams out since their late July trades. It was also a quick and painless loss, as opposed to the excruciating loss in extra innings yesterday. But any loss at the juncture is critical, and a bad weekend in Detroit could end the Tribe's playoff hopes as quickly as they began.
Win Expectancy Chart
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