Indians improve to 16-14
Houston must be bizzaro land, because the same lineup that ate Corey Kluber alive yesterday just got shut down by Trevor Bauer. Maybe it's something in the water, or maybe Trevor finally got everything firing on all cylinders. Whatever the reason, The Harbinger assumed direct control over the Astros lineup tonight and the Tribe offense did just enough to keep the game out of reach for Houston.
Bauer's stuff tonight was easily the best we've seen from him all season. Over seven shutout innings, he had everything working from his devastating curve to his solid fastball and even what was apparently his first slider of the season. He held the Astros to just three measly hits and only really faced a threat once, when LGFT Luis Valbuena hit a one-out double in the 5th. But like me on my prom night and every other Astro baserunner tonight, Valbuena never got farther than third base. Trevor finished the game with 7Ks and his obligatory 3BBs, managed to lower his ERA from 5.14 to 4.00, and lasted an inning and a third longer than his previous best start. I'm cautiously optimistic about Bauer after that performance, but putting together another solid outing against a less bad team would go a long way toward fully restoring my faith. Putting that all aside, Bauer was absolutely dominant tonight, and it was great fun to watch.
Now, Bauer didn't win this game alone. He had the benefit of pitching with lead for most of the game. The Indians threatened as early as the 1st inning, when Jason Kipnis smacked a one-out single, bringing up Francisco Lindor. Lindor worked Houston Starter Christopher Devenski for a 15-pitch at bat, fouling off nearly a dozen pitches and making sure Kip got in his sprints for the day as he repeatedly attempted to steal second. Unfortunately, the at bat ended with a rocket shot to 1B, allowing Tyler White to double off Kipnis and end the threat. No matter, though, because the Indians would threaten again in the 2nd.
After Mike Napoli singled and Carlos Santana walked, Jose Ramirez did what he does best (aside from helmet-conjuring magic): sac bunt. This set up a Juan Uribe comebacker that saw Napoli race for home like a speed demon and just beat the tag from Astros catcher Erik Kratz. Lonnie Chisenhall followed up with a double deep to the corner in RF, staking the Tribe to a 2-0 lead and giving Bauer all the help he would need.
After Bauer completed his 7th shutout inning, the Indians decided to tack on a few insurance runs to stave off any potential Shaw-sian disasters. Jason Kipnis smashed a ball over LF Colby Rasmus's head which then bouced off the wall back toward the field allowing Kip to easily take 3rd. Francisco Lindor, who had had a frustrating night so far having hit three balls very hard with no result, finally squeezed a single up the middle to drive in Kip. Napoli followed with a double to put the Tribe up 4-0, and they never looked back.
Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen pitched uneventful 8th and 9th innings respectively, and the Indians wrapped the game up in a tidy two hours and 38 minutes. The Tribe has a chance to take the series tomorrow as Danny Salazar takes on Doug Fister.