The Cleveland Indians won their fifth game in a row last night, and Mother Nature may have helped out.
Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Indians starter Trevor Bauer returned to the mound with rain pouring down and the middle of the Pirates’ batting order coming up. With Andrew McCutchen on first and Pedro Alvarez coming to the plate, Bauer seemed to be having trouble locating his pitches (likely due to the rain making the ball slick, as well as the possibility that Bauer couldn’t see the plate well through the rain), after not issuing a walk until that inning. It was at this time that the umpires decided to call for the tarp to be put on the field.
Before the rain delay, Brandon Moss was the star of the game. After David Murphy singled, Moss hit his fourteenth home run of the year of Pirates starter Charlie Morton to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Moss then singled in the fourth inning, moved to second on a walk to Giovanny Urshela, and scored on a Michael Bourn double to make it 3-0 in favor of the good guys.
Bauer was great in giving up just two hits and one walk in six and a third innings, but continues to make the one mistake that keeps the opposition in the game. In this case it was in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Neil Walker singled and McCutchen hit a two-run home run to shorten the Indians’ lead to 3-2. For those frustrated with these mistakes, it’s important to remember that Bauer is just 24 years old. Bauer is an extremely talented young pitcher and tireless worker, and as he gains experience these types of mistakes will go away. He has the chance to be really special.
When the game resumed two hours later, Bauer was relieved by Marc Rzepczynski who promptly struck out Alvarez on three straight pitches. Zach McAllister came on and, after walking Francisco Cervelli, retired Gregory Polanco to end the inning.
On the offensive side, Michael Bourn continued his hot night with a two-run single that scored David Murphy and Yan Gomes, giving the Indians a 5-2 lead. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen came on in the eighth and ninth innings respectively to seal the game for the Tribe.
The Indians have now won five games in a row and are just three games under .500 at 38-41. I say “just” because they were seven games under .500 after the first month of the season. While being four games over .500 since May 1st doesn’t mean much, there’s a good chance that the team’s performance over the last two months has been a regression to the mean. If that’s true, then another month likely April is unlikely, and the Indians still haven’t had a month where they are as hot as they were cold in April. While that scenario is no guarantee, if it happens, Cleveland’s own could find themselves back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Until then, it’s nice to see the Tribe playing solid baseball for several games in a row.