Nine hits and six runs in the first two innings were more than enough for the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon.
The top of the order triad consisting of Greg Allen, Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin combined for six of the nine base knocks in the offensive outburst to give the Tribe an 8-2 win over the San Diego Padres at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, AZ.
Behind another stellar outing from Trevor Bauer, the offense slashed 11 base hits and held a commanding lead thanks to the scoreless relief efforts of Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Ryan Merritt.
Bauer continues to roll
The command issues from years past have clearly been addressed by Bauer this past off-season. After issuing a league-leading 79 walks in 2015 and a concerning 70 free passes in 2016, Bauer has yet to throw four balls to an opposing hitter this spring. His final line: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
"I thought he was pretty good," said Terry Francona to reporters. "He's probably lengthened out more than most guys, because he's thrown a lot, but I think he's making progress."
An error by second baseman Ronny Rodriguez led to an unearned run, but Bauer maintained his composure and kept the San Diego offense in check.
"He's going to set that bar pretty high," Francona said of Bauer's expectations for himself. "And what he doesn't do, he'll probably fret over. But, I thought it was pretty good."
Top of the lineup anchors early-inning offense
With a respectable .268 batting average vs. left-handed pitching in the 2016 regular season, the Indians pummeled southpaw Clayton Richards and charged him with eight hits and six runs (all earned) in one inning of work.
The first inning onslaught commenced with an Allen single, Lindor RBI double, Roberto Perez RBI single, Tyler Naquin single and Bradley Zimmer RBI single. In a matter of minutes, the Padres were already in a 3-0 rut.
"We had two days where guys have gotten some at-bats, because we've had some longer innings," said Francona in regards to scoring 23 runs in the last two games. "When they string some at-bats together, they start getting some timing. So, it's been really good."
Moments later in the second, the top of the order repeated their performance thanks to Lindor's second RBI double to plate Allen, Naquin's RBI double to score Lindor and Richie Shaffer's sacrifice fly bringing home Edwin Encarnacion.
San Diego had already disposed two of its pitchers before Bauer even broke a sweat.
Miller, Allen, Shaw
It has been a few months, but the dominant late-inning trio comprised of Miller, Allen and Shaw officially returned together on Sunday. Each hurler posted a rather characteristic performance with six strikeouts in three shutout frames of work.
"We trust them. We talk all the time about how much we trust them," Francona said. "We're trying to do what's right for them for the year, but they're not over there just [messing] around. It works, because of the way they work. They're not over there doing nothing. We trust them a lot."
The remaining offense of the contest came courtesy of back-to-back home runs off the bats of Shaffer and Zimmer in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Naquin suffers bruised right foot
By fouling a pitch of his right foot in the bottom of the fifth inning, Naquin exited the game in what was deemed a bruised right foot by the training staff.
"He hit it off of the top of his foot," said Francona. "He's going to go get some X-rays, because he was hurting. Usually, you see a guy do that and he stays down for a minute and he gets up. He was hurting, so we want to go get him looked at just to make sure it's nothing more than a bruise."
The 15th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft was carted off the field and will reportedly have X-ray results revealed on Monday morning.
A split squad doubleheader is scheduled for Monday at 3:05 PM ET against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium and Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark.
Corey Kluber will oppose Matt Garza in the home affair, while Danny Salazar clashes with Matt Cain in the road contest.