The Indians are now 2-11 against the National League, and 18-23 at home*. If you’re looking for a succinct explanation for this bizarre win-loss split from a team five games above .500, I’m afraid I don’t have one without getting into some strange group psychoanalysis. Every win and every loss has its own unique story, and trying to find a connection among every home loss or every Interleague loss is going to take a more talented analyst than me. But I will try to talk about tonight’s home Interleague loss.
Last time out, Trevor Bauer had success with inducing weak contact off his curve ball, which help him pitch into the seventh inning. Tonight he had seven strikeouts, mostly on his curve, but the Padres were absolutely crushing the ball when they did make contact. Bauer once again tried to pitch “backwards,” opening the count with the curve for a strike, then using his fastball or occasionally his changeup as a chase pitch. He has simplified his pitch arsenal, and of late has had success with it. But not tonight. He gave up three earned runs in five innings, but that doesn’t accurately describe how he pitched. The Padres, when they made contact, hit lasers all over the yard. Yes, there were some plays that weren’t made on defense, but they would have been highlight-reel plays had they been made (particularly on the ball that Zimmer almost caught had the right field wall been placed two feet back). Bauer gave up an unearned run on a Brad Renfroe ball hit 109 mph, a ball that clipped Francisco Lindor’s glove and almost got to left fielder Michael Brantley (for a second, I thought that perhaps Brantley would make a diving catch, making for a rather unique 6-7 line out). I fully expect the error charged on the play will be reversed in the next week or so.
Even with mistakes he made, Bauer did get through five innings having given up three runs, and I thought that that would be the end of his night. Trevor had made almost 100 pitches to that point, and with the bullpen well-rested, “five and fly” seemed the logical confusion. The Indians had scored runs in the third and fifth innings, the score was 3-2, so why not take you bets with a battle of the bullpens? But Bauer started the sixth, gave up hits to the first three batters he faced, and was pulled with another run in and two runners on base. Nick Goody did keep the Padres from scoring any more runs, but Zach McAllister gave up a two-run homer in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
The Tribe offense had plenty of opportunities to match San Diego’s six runs, as their 14 hits will attest. The Indians hit into three double plays, with the one Edwin Encarnacion hit into in the fifth the most deflating. If the Indians take the lead in that inning, perhaps Bauer doesn’t come out to start the sixth.
- Tonight’s lineup was a different one, with both Carlos Santana (paternity list) and Jason Kipnis (neck) both out. Abe Almonte replaced Santana on the roster and in the lineup, while Erik Gonzalez manned second base in place of Kipnis. Both replacements had nice nights at the plate, having five hits between them.
- Francisco Lindor, who has struggled of late, made a conscious effort to swing towards the middle of the field, a very effective strategy against a groundball pitcher like Luis Perdomo. He had three hits off the San Diego starter, but wouldn’t score, as Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion left six runners on base between them.
- Jason Kipnis, who had the night off because of a neck injury, pinch-hit in the sixth inning, which seemed a strange time to use a player who wasn’t feeling well enough to start.
- Brad Mills once again filled in as manager for Terry Francona, who was undergoing further medical tests at The Cleveland Clinic.
*You could turn that around by mentioning the Tribe’s 42-28 record against the American League and 26-16 record on the road (and by extension, 25-11 on the road against AL teams).