Trevor Bauer’s performance in the Cleveland Indians’ 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers goes beyond the tired “but they’re a bad team” excuse. Bauer went in there and battled nine Major League(ish) Baseball players and dominated with 12 strikeouts and just one walk in eight innings.
Within his 113 pitches, which can be considered low for him this season, Bauer threw 80 strikes — the most he’s thrown in a single game this season. These weren’t Josh Tomlin meatball strikes, either. They were a mix of fiery fastballs and curveballs so delicately placed in the zone that Tigers hitters were frequently ducking for cover on strikes dead that eventually ended up dead center over the plate. It was pure deception.
The radar gun at Comerica Park would have you believe that Bauer was hurling 98 with his fastball all night long, but comparing this start to a few previous, it seems it might have been a mile-per-hour or so off. Still, whatever speed Bauer’s fastball was at, it worked, and he located it well enough to induce eight called strikes. Included in that number is a couple of absolute doozies, such as a 2-1 pitch thrown to James McCann in the sixth inning.
While we’re on this particular at-bat on Baseball Savant, the entire thing is a work of art, and serves as an abbreviated look at what made Bauer’s mix tonight so effective.
Because this is 2018 and the Indians are playing, it almost wasn’t enough and the dreaded bullpen meltdown seemed inevitable. The Indians and Tigers carried a 1-1 games into the ninth inning — which would have been a snoozefest were it not for Trevor pitching out of his mind — until Jose Ramirez and third base coach Mike Saurbaugh made things interesting, and Jason Kipnis made them exciting.
For Ramirez’s part, he took off quickly on a full-count, two-out situation when batter Yonder Alonso hit a ball to right field. It was enough to get Ramirez to third base and nearly to home until Saurbaugh put on the brakes so hard he almost fell over. This is ironic, of course, because Yonder Alonso found himself in a similar situation between second and third with two outs earlier in the game, but he didn’t have the awareness (or speed) of Ramirez to get back in time to avoid being squeezed into pickle juice.
Ramirez’s smart base-running with two outs turned out to be huge, because Jason Kipnis cranked a three-run home run in the following at-bat, effectively ending a game that could have theoretically extended as a 1-1 tie for all of eternity. Don’t test this Indians offense, they have been known to slump long enough for that to happen, and I don’t plan to spend the rest of my days watching Francisco Lindor wither away in the 1,489th inning of a game that started in June.
Anyway, you already saw the score and went back to watching the Cavs. If you’re reading this Saturday morning I’m either very excited for you, or I am very empathetic to your sadness right now. Hug it out either way.