CLEVELAND – A trio of crooked numbers were just enough to spell the end to the Tribe’s two-game losing streak.
Seven of the nine Indians hitters tallied at least one hit as part of a 7-6 win over the Astros on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Trevor Bauer moved to a perfect 6-0 vs. Houston with a six-inning effort to set up Andrew Miller and Cody Allen for a clean 2.1 innings of work out of the bullpen.
McCullers allows three in first before settling in
After scoring one run in the ninth inning on Monday, the Cleveland offense was able to pick up right where it left off in the home half of the first with three runs on four hits. Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez collected a pair of RBI doubles amid the outburst to pull ahead early.
"It's always important to play out in front. Houston is a great team, we know that and we knew that going into the series,” said Brantley. “It was a hard fought battle all the way through to the ninth inning. It was an intense game, and I look forward to doing it again tomorrow."
Although McCullers tentatively found his groove and set down nine of the next 11 hitters he faced after the first inning, he eventually fell back into making more location mistakes on a double to Francisco Lindor and two-run single to Brantley to give back a three-run advantage, 5-4.
“[McCuller’s] has a very good breaking ball,” Brantley said. “It’s one of the best breaking balls you're going to see all year. You're just trying to stay on it.”
The up-and-coming right-hander was dealt his first loss of 2017 – 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K (90 pitches, 55 strikes, 61.1%, five groundouts, two flyouts).
Bauer allows two home runs, perseveres for win
Despite striking out four of the first five Astros’ hitters, Bauer finished the outing with four runs on six hits charged to his ledger. His first mistake came in the fourth frame on a two-run blast by Evan Gattis, a 433-foot shot traveling at 103.7-mph.
“I'm not going to quit when something goes out of the yard,” said Bauer. “They have a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the park, so you've got to make sure you execute pitches. And even when you do execute pitches, they get hit out of the park sometimes, too.”
Two innings later, Bauer surrendered a two-run homer to Brian McCann after walking Carlos Correa.
“Exactly where I wanted,” Bauer said of his pitch location to McCann. “Apparently, it was right where he wanted it, too.”
Bauer was able to depart the ballgame with a one-run lead intact, putting him in position to earn his second win of 2017.
Not only does the UCLA product have a perfect 6-0 record and 2.61 ERA in 38 innings when facing Houston, but he also marks the second pitcher in major league history to achieve such a feet.
Although Houston was able to hang a crooked number on three different occasions, they also fell victim to two middle-inning momentum killers.
In addition to the two-run fifth, the Tribe was able to further their offensive effort courtesy of a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Carlos Santana to plate Jason Kipnis (single) and Abraham Almonte (walk) and expand the lead to 7-4 heading into the seventh.
“Carlos had a couple really good at-bats,” manager Terry Francona said. “The double to score the two, that was huge for us. They’re a really good team. They run some guys out of their bullpen that they can be a handful.”
Miller walks tight rope
Thirty-five pitches in a laborious seventh inning put Andrew Miller in a tough spot – bases-loaded and one out with Correa and McCann due up.
“They really pushed him,” said Francona. “You saw in the end not just his ability to have good stuff and pitch, but his competitiveness. He reached back for some really good stuff there, and he needed it.”
The lanky left-hander slithered his way out of danger by striking out the three and four hitters to extend his scoreless streak to 10 innings to start the year, the longest streak to open a season since Cody Allen fired 13.2 shutout frames in 2012.
Allen earns four-out save
It was not conventional, but Allen secured the victory by retiring all four hitters he faced atop manager A.J. Hinch’s lineup.
“That’s a good team,” Allen said. “They have some good veteran hitters in that lineup, mixed with a lot of young athleticism. They're a tough challenge and they're playing good baseball right now.”
Allen recorded his first multiple-inning save since June 9, 2016 and is now 4-for-4 in save opportunities.
Central Division update
The White Sox (11-9) protected home field with a 5-2 win over the Royals (7-14).
Detroit (11-9) fell short in an 8-0 loss to Seattle to move into a three-way tie for first place with Cleveland and Chicago.
The final game of the series is slated to start at 6:10 p.m. ET on Thursday from Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
RHP Corey Kluber (2-1, 4.28) will make his 139th career start, the seventh of which will come against Houston. The 31-year-old allowed nine runs in 9.2 innings to the Astros in 2016, but features a 3.15 ERA in 40 career innings vs. the AL West frontrunners.
RHP Mike Fiers (0-1, 5.40) is coming off five innings of three-run ball in a no-decision to the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday. The 31-year-old has faced the Indians twice, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA through 12 frames.
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