The Cleveland Indians did a nice job encapsulating their first half in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox (45-51) on Sunday afternoon, the final game of the first half before the four-day All-Star break begins.
First, there was Trevor Bauer continuing to progress as a major-league starter, turning in his finest performance to date in his young major league career. Bauer, 23, set a career-high by striking out 10 batters over 6 2/3 innings of work. 74 of his 117 pitches went for strikes, impressive considering command has been Bauer’s Achilles Heel in his career. He walked three and allowed eight hits without conceding a run.
However, a lack of clutch hitting and quality defense looked like it was going to squander a quality pitching performance, as has often been the case this season.
At the time of Bauer’s removal from the game, which was met with a standing ovation and a cap-tip, the Indians (47-47) had scored just one run with 10 runners left on base.
In the eighth inning, a pitch from reliever Bryan Shaw skipped under the glove of catcher Yan Gomes, allowing the tying run to advance from first to second. The next batter, Gordon Beckham, hit a ground ball up the middle that second baseman Jason Kipnis had a play at but couldn’t get a glove on. Kipnis wasn’t charged with an error, but the misplay cost the Indians a run and Bauer a win.
No worries, though, because the Indians came back with some late-game heroics, as has also been the case often this year.
Designated hitter Nick Swisher led off the eighth with a bloop single to left field, beating the shift. The next batter, Yan Gomes, also used the opposite field, hitting his 11th home run of the year over the right field wall to give the Indians a go-ahead 3-2 lead.
To finish summarizing the Indians season, Cody Allen worked another perfect ninth inning, converting his 12th save of the season and 11th in his last 11 chances.
August Fagerstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AugustF_ABJ.