Trevor Bauer was lights-out Monday night, surrendering 1 ER on 5 hits, striking out 10 and walking 1 in 7.2 IP
In the top of the first inning, the Indians had runners on second and third with just one out, thanks to a couple of sloppy plays by Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte. James Paxton dialed it up a notch to face Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, hitting 100 mph on several pitches (he would hit 100 several more times throughout the game). What looked to be a promising inning quickly crumbled behind some incredible pitching from Paxton. At that point I thought to myself “oh crap…it’s going to be tough to get something going against him.” I thought the Indians’ best chance may be to hope Paxton leaves a pitch or two hanging, and that they’d be able to take advantage of that. For this plan to work though, Trevor Bauer needed to be in command on the mound. He needed impeccable control, and had to completely shut down a Mariners offense that is ranked fourth in MLB.
Bauer did his part – he had one of the best games I’ve seen from him in quite some time. And the Indians’ offense did their part and managed to chip away at Paxton for three runs; enough to hang on for a 3-1 victory.
The Mariners were able to manufacture their lone run in the bottom of the third inning when Ketel Marte got a one-out single and then stole second base. Marte made it to third on a Shawn O’Malley ground-out, and scored on a single from Nori Aoki. Bauer was dealing for the rest of the game, until he was pulled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth for Bryan Shaw. There were a couple of balls hit fairly deep by the Mariners, but they stayed in the park and were handled by Jose Ramirez and Rajai Davis. There were a number of cases where Bauer had the hitter completely baffled; he ended the night with 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
After the Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the third, the Indians came right back with two runs in the top of the fourth and took over the lead for good. Carlos Santana singled, and Jose Ramirez followed with a double that bounced around in the left field corner. Santana was chugging around the bases, and you knew it was going to be a close play at the plate. The ball got there before Santana, but catcher Chris Iannetta wasn’t able to hang onto it…Santana was safe. On the throw home Ramirez went to third, with just one out. Juan Uribe then hit a deep sacrifice fly that allowed for Ramirez to score. They got their third run in the top of the fifth when Davis hit a solo home run. It was kind of an odd hit…off the bat, Paxton pointed at the sky, as if he expected it to be a routine fly ball. I thought it was going to stay in play and be caught, but it just kept carrying and made it over the wall.
The bullpen managed to pick up where Bauer left off. When Shaw entered with two outs in the eighth inning, he struck out Robinson Cano to end any potential threat (Aoki had singled and was on first). Cody Allen had a drama-free ninth inning, getting Nelson Cruz to ground-out, and striking out Kyle Seager, and Adam Lind.
Bauer was in complete command tonight and maintained a reasonable pitch count. This is the talent that we all know is there, but that sometimes struggles to reveal itself. It’s why we should never give up on Bauer or write him off (even when he frustrates us). If we can consistently see this version of him, and the rotation stays healthy overall, it could be a pretty formidable 1-5 for the rest of the AL (and the NL East) to contend with for the rest of the season.