Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians doubleheader split with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday at Progressive Field. The Indians rallied for a 3-2 win in the first game, but were shut out 1-0 in 12 innings in the second.
1) Indians Game One starting pitcher Trevor Bauer showed his increasing maturity in his career-high, eighth-inning start. Not only was he facing his former team head-to-head for the first time since they traded him to the Indians two years ago in an obvious we-can’t-handle-the-prima-donna-attitude, see-what-you-can-do dump, he went out of his way to be a good sportsman to the former teammate he battled with the most - catcher Miguel Montero.
“That was two years ago,” Bauer said, shrugging off the idea that there could be any leftover hard feelings. “I’ve long since moved on from that. So, to me, it’s just another team. Just nine more hitters to get out. That’s it. There’s no bad blood between me and them or anything like that. I moved on from it a long time ago. I just tried to pitch and get outs.”
2) The right-hander, who was the third overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Diamondbacks, limited the Dbacks to two runs on four hits and was one strikeout shy of matching his career-high of 10.
Bauer may have blown off the significance of showing such maturity, but knowing the kind of competitor the youngster is, Tribe manager Terry Francona was well aware of how much growth the effort showed.
“I thought he did a really good job with it,” Francona said. “I know there’s some history there. I think he was a little extra amped up, but he used it in a way where he stayed under control. He didn't just go out and throw. He went out and pitched really well.”
3) Bauer wasn’t the only one. So did the Indians Josh Tomlin and Arizona’s Andrew Chafin.
In his spot start, Tomlin tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings and scattered four hits. The difference in this start and the ones that previous ones that were so lousy he was banished to the bullpen recently?
“I was able to command the ball to both sides of the plate and the defense was awesome,” he said. “They put some pretty good balls in play and (the Tribe’s defense) made great plays all around – from the first play of the game to (right fielder Ryan) Raburn, to (centerfielder Tyler) Holt to (shortstop Mike) Aviles.”
4) As well as each of the evening’s starter’s tossed, perhaps the most satisfied afterward was Chafin. The former Kent State product threw five shutout innings in a spot start that marked his major league debut – in his native state and in front of 50 of his closest friends and family members.
“It went about as good as anybody could imagine it going,” he said. “It was a great outing for me so close to home.”
5) However, after the game, Chafin quickly learned he was being optioned back to Triple-A Reno as Arizona needs a reliever to fortify the bullpen after the teams played 21 innings in about an eight-hour span in the twin bill.
“I completely understand it’s for the benefit of the team. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to come back. But this was a great night that Ill never forget.”
Before the game, Chafin was blown away by the local support he received.
"I looked on my Facebook (page) when I got in here, and it seemed like everyone I went to high school with told me they were at the game. Honestly, I think those guys were as excited about tonight as I was."
6) The Indians may not have scored against Chafin, but they drove his pitch count up quickly.
“Chafin had seven 3-2 counts, but he made the pitches when he had to,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Chafin’s 101 pitches, 59 of which went for strikes.
7) One thing not so great on the evening, yet consistent of nothing else, was the Tribe’s struggling offense. The host was held to three runs over the two games.
“We just needed to cash in once,” Francona lamented after the second-game’s shutout, “and yet we couldn’t do it. When you’re in a game like that at home, you feel you have a pretty good shot.”
8) Part of the Indians struggles in the nightcap was the Dbacks using a handful of left-handed pitchers, the Tribe’s Achilles Heel all season.
“They started a lefty and it was obvious they wanted to stay left-handed,” Francona said.
9) For a glimpse of just how young the Indians have become so quickly over the last two weeks between trade deadline swaps and injuries, look no further than the last four players in the Tribe’s Game Two lineup all bunched together at the bottom of the order: rookie No. 6 hitter and left fielder Zack Walters, rookie No. 7 hitter and center fielder Tyler Holt, rookie No. 8 hitter and catcher Roberto Perez and rookie No. 9 hitter and shortstop Jose Ramirez.
10) Yet, the kids did their part to contribute bug time on the long day. In the first game – a 3-2 victory - the two newest members of the club made big contributions. Holt notched his first major league hit in the third inning and then went on to pick up four on the day between both games. Walters picked up his first hit as an Indian in the sixth inning, and then came back to record his first big league walk-off hit with a solo homer in the ninth.
11) After watching Walters closely and having watched Holt play since I covered him at Double-A Akron, the two remind me of other Indians I enjoyed watching as youngsters. Walters reminds me a lot in look and body language of former Tribe All-Star centerfielder Grady Sizemore. Holt’s reckless, all-out style – including another highlight-reel diving catch in centerfield in as many days – is a lot like the style of second baseman Jason Kipnis. Running, sliding, diving, jersey-all-dirty, they’re both worthy of the nickname “dirt bag” in my book.