CLEVELAND – Moans and groans scattered Progressive Field as Trevor Bauer and the Indians fell victim to an early 3-0 deficit to the Athletics.
That three-inning period of 14,184 fans hushed in their seats did not last any further.
The Tribe tallied nine runs on 11 hits to support Trevor Bauer’s career-high 14 strikeouts as part of a 9-4 victory on Tuesday evening.
Bradley Zimmer and Jason Kipnis rocketed a pair of home runs while 19 of the opposition’s 26 outs came via the strikeout, tying Cleveland's franchise record (May 13, 2015). Manager Terry Francona and company now have 11 come-from-behind wins and 18 consecutive games with at least one homer, also tying a franchise record (June 23-July 7, 2007).
Bauer reaches new heights
The opening damage off Bauer came in the form of Matt Joyce’s RBI groundout to plate Yonder Alonso and bring the score to 1-0.
His location did not improve much in the fourth frame as the Athletics tallied two more runs on four hits…
The big turning point in the outing came on the last out of the inning when Michael Brantley gunned down Ryon Healy at the plate – the final out of the four-hit outburst.
"Brantley made a [heck] of a play throwing the guy out a home," Bauer said. "They were hitting everything I threw. They were hitting a curveball, fastball, cutter, I think they hit a changeup that inning."
"And then Brant comes up and makes a really nice throw to get out of the inning. None of the rest of it happens if we don't get out of that inning keeping the damage like that. Great job by the defense to help minimize that."
Bauer settled in for the remainder of his outing and struck out 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced en route to a final line of 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R/ER, 1 BB, 14 K (113 pitches, 77 strikes, 68.1%, four groundouts, one flyout).
"I like my strikeouts," said Bauer. "I mean, shoot, half the balls they put in play tonight were hit, so I decided after the fourth I just wasn't going to let them hit the ball anymore because it was always a hit."
His curveball was used at a 40.7% clip (46 of 113 pitches), the second highest total of his career. The bender produced 10 swinging strikes with an average exit velocity of 71.2-mph (see chart below).
"Maybe throwing it more often," Bauer said of his number one secondary offering. "Usually when you throw a pitch more often, they see it more, they hit it more. Deconventional wisdom, so, I don't know."
“He wasn’t just throwing, he was pitching,” said Francona. “He looked so strong. Everything was breaking ball (and) fastball. When he needed to throw a fastball for a strike, he was able to do that and get it past the barrel.”
Roberto Perez also took note of the extra break and more swinging strikes Bauer was getting on the curve.
"It was huge, especially because they're a very aggressive team," Perez said. "We were just trying fastball after fastball. He was up to 97 today. He was riding it up, up in the zone. And then that breaking ball off the fastball. They're a very aggressive team. It was working tonight."
The four-run fourth inning came back to hurt the Athletics for the second game in a row as Edwin Encarnacion singled in a run, Jose Ramirez ripped an RBI double and Bradley Zimmer found the wall in right field for a two-run double.
“It’s awesome. The guys at the top really set the tone," said Zimmer. "You hear the term hitting is contagious, I think it showed tonight. Everyone continued. It was a good win.”
Jason Kipnis homered before Michael Brantley knocked in a run and scored on a wild pitch as part of another crooked number inning in the fifth. Sonny Gray was dealt a season-high seven runs, just two days after Danny Duffy surrendered a season-high six runs – both aces of their respective rotations.
Zimmer furthered the effort with a two-run blast in the eighth, two insurance runs that allowed Cody Allen to take a seat in the bullpen.
“I’ve just treated it like I’ve treated like I’ve done in the past," Zimmer said of his adjustments to the big league level. "Just because I’m in the big leagues now doesn’t mean I need to do anything different. I just need to continue to be myself and do what I need to do to contribute, helps this team win, ultimately.”
The series moves on to Game 3 on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. ET from Progressive Field.
RHP Mike Clevinger (2-1, 2.82) is scheduled for his first career start (second appearance) vs. Oakland after surrendering three runs on four hits in a relief appearance last August.
LHP Sean Manaea (3-3, 4.35) has 14 straight starts with five or fewer hits and two or more innings on his stat line, the longest streak in the big leagues dating back to 1913.