Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians 4-3 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Monday at Progressive Field:
1) If there ever was a bend-but-don’t-break outing from an Indians starting pitcher, it was the outing young Trevor Bauer gave the Indians Monday. The young right-hander became the first Tribe pitcher in nine games to pitch into the sixth inning, a much-needed performance that saved a worn out and over worked bullpen that had the task of eating up the additional innings over the past week.
“Hopefully as time goes along, I'll be able to throw more pitches and go deeper into games - especially on nights where I'm not as efficient as I'd like to be,” Bauer said. “But it felt good to go out there and prove that (even without his command), I can still handle going deeper into the game.”
2) Carlos Carrasco’s outing was just as impressive, as relieved Bauer with two outs in the sixth and pitched the final 2 1/3 having allowed just one hit. The last Tribe pitcher before Carrasco to record save in a one-run game and record at least seven outs was Rod Nichols against the host Chicago White Sox on June 19, 1991.
“I feel different, my mentality is way different,” Carrasco said of comparing starting to relieving. “I think I threw 35 pitches and maybe (just) 10 fastballs because the game was on the line, 4-3. So, I used more breaking stuff.”
3) In the ninth inning, Carrasco said he went slider heavy.
“Before the inning, I just wanted to set out in my mind everything that I needed to do in that inning,” he said. “(pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) told me keep going and attack the zone. That's it.”
4) After he showered and spoke to the media, Carrasco had a game ball waiting for him for notching his first career save.
“That was a huge lift for us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “When we can stay away from everybody in the bullpen and win a one-run game going through that lineup.”
In case of emergency, Francona had lefty Josh Outman and right-hander Scott Atchison up warming in case they were needed in the eighth inning.
“It’s a one-run game and you have to prepare for that, but (Carrasco) executed pitches,” Francona said of sticking with Carrasco Monday night to earn the save. “He led off (the eighth inning) with a walk, but he speeds up his delivery, makes a pitch, (catcher) George (Kottaras) makes a great throw. So, there was a lot of good things that happened.”
5) Callaway said both pitchers grew up a bit Monday night and proved they belonged in the big leagues, beginning with Bauer battling without his best stuff.
“That's what you look for in a major league pitcher,” Callaway said. “It's almost like, “OK, you're a major leaguer now.’ You can go out there when your stuff might not be the best and you can battle and give us six or seven good innings. It gives you the confidence that you can pitch at this level - no matter how good your stuff is that day.”
6) About the only negative for the Indians on the night came when centrerfielderMichael Brantley was removed from game and replaced by Mike Aviles to start the fifth inning “for precautionary reasons” after “blow to head/neck area” following his slide trying to break up a double play in the third inning.
After the game, Francona said Brantley – who earlier in the day had been named the American League Player of the Week - had passed the initial concussion tests.
“When he broke up that double play he got banged in the side of the head a little bit,” Francona said. “He’s passed all the initial concussion tests, which is very good. And his neck’s a little stiff. So, the hope is he’ll wake up (Tuesday morning), feel good and clear headed. Then we’ll see how his neck feels.”
7) The Indians can only hope Brantley is indeed fine and not headed for the disabled list. Not only has he been arguably the Tribe’s most consistent hitter all season, he’s coming off a red-hot week in which he batted .538 (14-for-26) with three doubles, two home runs, three walks, three RBI and nine runs scored over seven games during the Indians recent road trip.
Over that span, Brantley led all major leaguers in batting average, runs scored and on-base percentage (.625). He was led the American League in hits, total bases (23) and times on base (20), was second in slugging percentage (.885) and was tied for third in extra-base hits (5).