Fueled by strong offensive performances from Michael Brantley (2 hits, 3 RBI) and Carlos Santana (2 hits, 2 RBI) and solid relief pitching from Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, the Indians beat the Houston Astros, 7-6, at Progressive Field on Wednesday evening. The Astros made it close when they scored two runs off Bryan Shaw in the eighth inning, but Allen stepped in to record the final four outs, earning his fourth save of the season.
The Tribe jumped off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning when five of the first six Indians batters reached base safely. A big inning could have been even bigger, but Lonnie Chisenhall hit into a double play to end the inning. It’s kind of a no duh! thing to say, but when Santana and Brantley are hitting, the indians will score a lot of runs. And they are indeed hitting. Each man doubled on Wednesday. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez, and Lonnie Chisenhall also got an RBI apiece. This team’s hitting is such that if any two or three batters are hot at the same time, they’ll score a lot of runs, even if the other guys are underperforming.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer wasn’t great, giving up four runs over six innings by allowing two 2-run homers. But things could have been worse, and he actually did a fair job of keeping things in check. The Indians led 5-4 when he retired the last Astro in the sixth inning, and when the Tribe tacked on two more runs in their half of the sixth, an indians victory seemed assured, especially when Miller pitched a scoreless seventh. But Shaw had a rare bad outing, and was removed in favor of Allen with the Indians ahead, 7-6. Fortunately, Allen did what he usually does, which is to throw heat and strike guys out. He faced one batter in the eighth and three in the ninth and got them all out, the last two on swinging strikeouts.
You’ll not hear me say anything bad about Shaw. He gives up runs now and then, sure, but overall the guy is like money in the bank. He’ll be fine. But I’m not sold on Bauer. He gives up far too many home runs for my liking (five in 23 innings so far this year), and his WHIP is a too-high 1.35. In his defense, he does strike out a lot of batters while walking a relative few. Maybe he’ll be fine in 2017. But it makes me nervous to watch him pitch.
I guess I shouldn’t complain. The important thing is that the Tribe won. The rubber game will be played at 6:10 on Thursday. Indians ace Corey Kluber will pitch.