If we’re being honest with ourselves, this game wasn’t all that close. Sure the Indians were only down two runs for the majority of the game and they cut that deficit to one in the seventh, but this game seemed out of reach from the get go. There were moments when I thought maybe some magic would spin a new tale of victory for our hometown Cleveland Indians, but it was not meant to be. The Tribe dropped the second game in a row to the Minnesota Twins and dropped to 7.5 games back of first in the AL Central. So how did it happen?
Trevor Bauer somehow muscles out a quality start
Trevor Bauer did not look good to start the game. After ten pitches in the first inning, the Twins had already hit a home run (Max Kepler), a single (Jorge Polanco), and drew a walk (Nelson Cruz). Everything was hovering right around the lower-middle of the plate and the Twins weren’t missing. Even with his bionic arm, it was looking like Bauer was going to have a short day. But Bauer buckled down and struck out Marwin Gonzalez for the first out of the inning before giving up a single to Luis Arraez to load the basis. But a strikeout of Jonathan Schoop and a ground ball into a force by Jason Castro allowed Bauer to escape without giving up the big inning. It took him 23 pitches, but at least there was only one run on the board with plenty of time left.
Then the second inning came around and the dingers kept coming.
Bauer, doing his best Josh Tomlin impression, gave up a pair of solo home runs to Jake Cave (his second of the year) and Max Kepler (his twenty-third of the year). If you are noticing a trend between Max Kepler and Trevor Bauer, you aren’t alone:
Max Kepler's last 5 at-bats vs Trevor Bauer (all in Cleveland):— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 13, 2019
Kepler now has 11 career HR at Progressive Field, 6 more than any other road ballpark. pic.twitter.com/WXYdXgdCga
Apparently, Max Kepler has Trevor Bauer figured out and he demonstrated it tonight in his first two at-bats. The second inning added 33 more pitches to Bauer’s pitch count to bring it to a cool 56 after just two innings. This was thanks in part to two more strikeouts and another walk to Nelson Cruz. On the other hand, Bauer had 4 Ks through two inning and 8 swinging strikes. So something was working, but the couple of things that were not working were really not working.
Suddenly, in the third inning, things started clicking. For the remaining four innings, Bauer gave up just one additional hit (a single to Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth) and one more walk (Jake Cave in the fourth). The Twins suddenly couldn’t figure out Bauer and proceeded to get mowed down for four innings. He notched an additional seven strikeouts (including striking out the side in the fourth) to bring his total for the night to eleven. His curve seemed to have exceptional bite and generated 10 of Bauer’s 25 swinging strikes on the evening. After finishing the fifth inning at 106 pitches, it seemed reasonable to think he’d be done. But Bauer stepped out to the mound in the sixth and needed just 11 pitches to finish the inning. On a night when Bauer seemed primed to be the reason for tonight’s loss, he kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win despite the two shaky innings to start. If the Indians have any hope of making noise in the playoffs, they will need Bauer.
The Indians cannot score runs
Like I mentioned above, Bauer gave the Tribe a chance to win this game. But it was a chance that was never capitalized on. The team only managed five hits the entire night, two of which were solo home runs. Aside from the dingers (José Ramírez in the second and Bobby Bradley in the seventh), the Tribe took the night off on the offensive front. Francisco Lindor got a single up the middle to start the game, but he was quickly erased by a double play. The same thing happened to Greg Allen in the third: single on a ground ball and then have the next hitter ground into a double play. The Tribe offense could never get anything going.
The best chance of the night came in the sixth when Greg Allen led off the inning with his best Brandon Guyer impression followed by a rare Oscar Mercado walk. With the tying run on base, Carlos Santana stepped to the plate and almost gave the Tribe the lead. He took a pitch over the heart of the plate and launched it deep into center field. The camera angle made it look like it was headed to Lake Erie, but when the broadcast switched to the outfield camera, all we saw was Byron Buxton sitting and waiting for the ball and sadness. Kipnis had a chance to do the same thing but instead struck out swinging on three pitches.
The bullpen has another bad night
After Bauer got the team through seven innings, he turned the ball over to the bullpen and thins quickly went south. Well, not quickly, but it didn’t take too long. Tyler Olson replaced Bauer in the seventh and he struck out a batter before giving up a single and giving way to Tyler Clippard. Clippard struck out the next two hitters, which should have been the end of Clippard’s night. But it wasn’t. Instead, he came back out for the eighth and gave up back to back singles to Luis Arraez and Jonathan Schoop. After a sac bunt by Jason Castro moved both runners over, Jake Cave sent a double to right field, bringing in two runs and ending Cleveland’s chance at a win (not literally, but spiritually). Tito then remembered to remove Clippard from the game, but the damage was done. A.J. Cole replaced him and got the final two outs of the inning before coming out and allowing a run* in the ninth for good measure.
Bit Size Tribe Tids
- As mentioned above, Bobby B got his first MLB home run. I didn’t describe it too much about it because I’ll let Tom Hamilton do it for me:
- Blake Parker on the Twins had TS45 on his hat tonight in honor of Tyler Skaggs. Parker used to be a member of the Angels.
- Let’s look at Bauer pitching like an ace for a moment:
Trevor Bauer, "James Brown'ing" Polanco with a 79mph Knuckle Curve. pic.twitter.com/Q4hpHb6skD— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 14, 2019
Jensen Lewis said a smart thing for once and said tonight wasn’t a knockout punch but it sure felt close. A loss tomorrow may feel a bit closer still. Shane Bieber takes the hill for the Tribe tomorrow to try and avoid the sweep.
*This run wasn’t technically Cole’s fault since it was a result of a fielding error by Ramírez.