By Stephanie Storm, Beacon Journal staff writer
If there ever was a bend-but-don’t-break outing from an Indians starting pitcher, it was the gutsy and much-needed performance Trevor Bauer gave the IndiansMonday night at Progressive Field.
Bauer became the first Tribe pitcher in the last nine games to pitch into the sixth inning, a much-needed start that saved a worn out and over worked bullpen saddled with the task of eating up all the additional innings over the past week and a half.
Bauer also became the first Tribe starter to toss a 119 pitches in a game this season, which also marked a career high for the young right-hander. Over 6 2/3 innings, Bauer scattered eight hits, limiting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to three runs while he struck out six and left to a standing ovation with a one-run lead that the Tribe managed to ride for a 4-3 victory.
“I felt better as the game went along,” Bauer said of battling throughout the night without his best stuff. “But I’m still trying to find my mechanics.”
Even as he passed the 100-pitch mark, Bauer was strong – continuing to touch 96 mph in the seventh inning.
“I can 130, 140, 150, 200 – whatever,” he said. “I train myself to do that as I throw a lot. I did all through college, but obviously every seven days (not five like pro ball).”
Afterwards, it was hard to tell if Bauer was joking or being serious, as he can be so hard to read.
Nevertheless, with Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving watching from a fourth-floor suite after taking batting practice with the team, the Indians took an early lead via an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run home run that survived an umpire crew chief review.
But Angels catcher Chris Iannetta tied the game in the second inning on a shot to center field that rolled to the wall as Iannetta pulled up at second base with a two-run double.
The Indians offense quickly rallied to give Bauer another lead with which to work after he held the Angels pat in the third. Michael Brantley’s RBI single handed the Tribe a 3-2 advantage before Jason Kipnis hit into an inning-ending double play.
The play was costly in more ways than one however. Brantley injured himself on the slide into second base trying to break up the double play. A little later, the Indians official word was that reigning American League Player of the Week was removed from the game and replaced by Mike Aviles in the field to start the fifth “for precautionary reasons after taking a blow to the head/neck area.”
Meanwhile, the Angels pulled even again in the top of the fourth on former IndianJohn McDonald’s sacrifice fly. But Bauer esacped yet another jam by stranding the bases loaded by getting veteran slugger Albert Pujols to ground out to end the inning.
The resiliant Indians went on to get the run back in the bottom of the inning whenCarlos Santana led off the fourth with a home run to right field. The host then rode the slim advantage to victory as former starter Carlos Carrasco pitched the final 2 1/3 innings in scoreless fashion - exclusively from the stretch - to notch his first career save.
After the game, Indians manager Terry Francona said Brantley passed the initial concussion tests. But the team will have to wait until Tuesday to see how he’s doing determine if and when he can play again.