In my pregame notes, I brought up the fact that this series between the O’s and Indians is a matchup between the American League’s best road team and the best home team. Something, as it goes, had to give.
Well, round one goes to the AL’s best home team, and it was over quickly.
Trevor Bauer is rarely a slam-the-door type of pitcher in his outings, though he’s been exceptionally effective for most of this season. Even when he’s cruising, he’ll often have an inning or two where he gets a couple runners on and his ability to wiggle out of the jam determines his success on the night. Well, in the first inning, he allowed a lead-off single to Adam Jones and a four-pitch walk to Manny Machado (while striking out Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis), but gave up an early, crushing 3-run bomb to Mark Trumbo.
Put on their back early, the Indians failed to put together anything substantive against rookie Dylan Bundy, who was making only his second career start. The Indians scraped five hits together against him in five innings, but couldn’t just string them together. The team’s lone run of the evening came in the fifth inning on a double play ground ball which, in hindsight, feels like an appropriate way to sum up this entire game.
Before Bauer left after facing one batter in the fifth inning, he had allowed five runs and it felt like it was all but over. The Indians made some noise in the 9th inning, but it was much ado about nothing given the anemic bottom of the order the team was forced into with Lonnie Chisenhall being out due to illness.
For most of the season, it’s been assumed that the Indians biggest need was in the bullpen, but I think a game like this highlights just how badly the Indians need an impact bat going down the stretch. Imagine a crucial game in late September or October and the Indians have to scrape for a run but have to turn to the likes of Abraham Almonte, Chris Gimenez, and/or Yan Gomes… it’s definitely a weakness this team has right now (especially assuming we won’t see Brantley again this season).
All in all, it was a loss, but losses happen, and we shouldn’t read too much into it. The Indians turn to Josh Tomlin tomorrow to right the ship.