The Indians have had problems this season winning games in which they were behind in the late innings. By the time the sixth or seventh inning rolled around, if the Indians weren’t winning, they probably weren’t going to win. Against the Angels tonight, they not only got a good outing from Trevor Bauer, but they managed to score 3 runs in the seventh inning to take a 3-1 lead. After the Indians pulled ahead, they got a perfect eighth inning from Bauer and a perfect ninth from Cody Allen to earn the win.
I’ve been documenting Bauer’s outings for a couple of weeks now; I talked about his last start against the Yankees here, and compared some of his good and bad starts here. Out of all of the heat maps I used for him, none of them looked quite like tonight. He wasn’t all over the place, but his pitchers were up in the zone a bit more than usual.
It obviously worked for him though – Bauer allowed 1 ER on 5 hits over the course of 8 innings, striking out 7 and walking 3. He managed to induce 2 double plays, which helped to minimize any potential damage. Bauer also kept Angels hitters in the park, particularly Mike Trout and Albert Pujols (although Pujols did double).
One interesting fact about tonight’s outing – Bauer had more ground ball outs than he typically does. Let’s look at tonight’s start against the Angels compared to some of the other games I’ve looked at over the past couple of months.
Tonight vs. Angels: 9 ground ball outs, 4 fly ball outs, 3 line drive outs
August 23 vs. Yankees (good outing): 6 ground ball outs, 6 fly ball outs, 2 line drive outs
August 18 vs. Red Sox (bad outing): 5 ground ball outs, 1 fly ball out, 4 line drive outs
August 13 vs. Yankees (bad outing): 2 ground ball outs, 6 fly ball outs, 7 line drive outs
August 2 vs. Athletics (good outing): 5 ground ball outs, 6 fly ball outs, 6 line drive outs
June 16 vs. Cubs (good outing): 7 ground ball outs, 8 fly ball outs, 2 line drive outs
It’s a Captain Obvious kind of observation, but keeping the ball on the ground will definitely limit the number of home runs you surrender. I’m not quite ready to say “problem solved!” when it comes to Bauer, but this definitely seems encouraging.
As for the offense, Andrew Heaney pitched 6 solid innings, allowing 0 ER and 6 hits. Once he left the game, the Indians managed to get to Trevor Gott – an Abraham Almonte double plated the first run, while singles from Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana accounted for the other two runs. However, the seventh inning wasn’t without annoyance for me. A leadoff walk to Lonnie Chisenhall was immediately followed by bunt pop out from Jose Ramirez. I’ve been complaining about the excess of bunting this season, but at least this wasn’t an absurd situation to call for a bunt. Late in the game when it’s tied, or a 1-run game, is when you should try to manufacture a run. In the first inning, when you have the leadoff hitter on, no outs, and a red-hot hitter like Francisco Lindor coming to the plate is when bunting makes me kind of crazy.
The Indians managed to get 10 hits again tonight, making it their 10th straight game where they acquired 10 or more hits. If nothing else, the Indians have been much more fun to watch since they unloaded players at the trade deadline.