There are particular wins throughout the grind of a 162-game regular season where playoff baseball teams look back and say: “That was a big one”…The Indians are hoping to look back in October and remember Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory in that very manner.
On a night when a no hitter–or even a perfect game–seemed within realistic reach for Max Scherzer, Tribe hitters kept their poise, grinded through tough at bats, and got to the former Cy Young Winner when it mattered most. Scherzer was absolutely nasty, taking a no hitter into the 7th inning until Francisco Lindor laced a no-doubt-about-it single to center field on an 0-2 fastball that wasn’t elevated quite enough.
After an errant pickoff throw rattled Scherzer and moved Lindor to third base, Jose “Mr Clutch” Ramirez would smack an RBI double off the right field wall and the Indians would gain the momentum, which had seemed unfathomable just an inning earlier. The Tribe would get a bloop RBI single from Lonnie Chisenhall to take a 2-0 lead into the middle of the 7th, then add a key insurance run on yet another clutch RBI hit from Ramirez in the 9th inning.
However, Trevor Bauer was the hidden gem in this game, actually outpitching Scherzer when all was said and done and giving the Tribe 6.1 shutout innings.
Let’s dig deeper into this big win for the Wahoos…
KEY STATS & GAME NOTES
*Mills Thrills: With Tito Francona missing the game (illness), Brad Mills would serve as active manager for the Tribe in a game where late-inning bullpen moves and double switches would be key. Mills pushed all the right buttons Tuesday night, utilizing Andrew Miller and Brian Shaw to complete the 7th and 8th innings, then turning to Cody Allen for the save in the 9th.
*Miller Thrillers: Miller would give up a solo home run on a hanging curveball in the 8th inning, but also get key outs in the 7th and 8th inning too. His slider is downright nasty and the Indians continue to show a willingness to utilize Miller throughout various late-inning situations when he is needed the most. It appears Cleveland has no desire to give Miller or Allen the title of “closer” in the foreseeable future.
*Bauer Outage: In his first start after allowing a career-high eight runs to Minnesota in his last outing, Bauer threw 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and two walks, striking out four.
*Pressing the Right Buttons: On a rare night off for Mike Napoli, Jose Ramirez would have the game’s two biggest hits, producing an RBI double to break a scoreless game in the 7th, then sealing the win with a 9th-inning RBI single. Ramirez is hitting a whopping .369 with runners in scoring position on the season.
*Roberto to the Rescue: After Chris Gimenez served as Bauer’s ‘personal catcher’ in every outing except his first start of the season, Roberto Perez would get the start Tuesday night. Tito Francona claimed that he wants to get Perez going, following his first two-hit game of the season in New York on Sunday.
*World Series Preview?: While the regular season has nearly two intense months remaining, these two elite teams have played three intense games in as many match ups so far this season. With two talented rosters and growing expectations for both organizations, it would be fun to see the Nats and Tribe square off in late October.
*On Deck: The Indians will look to grab a quick sweep of this short 2-game series during a matinée Wednesday afternoon where Josh Tomlin (11-4, 3.81) will square off against (7-9, 4.13) Gio Gonzalez at 4:05pm Eastern Time in Washington D.C.