Nineteen final thoughts as the Indians win a big three-game series.
1. Those who thought the Indians’ eight-game, three-city road trip was unusual don’t know the half of it. It ended Wednesday in Dodger Stadium with right-hander Trevor Bauer hugging left fielder Michael Brantley.
2. Brantley, playing center with Michael Bourn given the day off, came back to the dugout in the fifth inning angry after lining out to third base with one out and Asdrubal Cabrera on second. Miguel Rojas went to his right towards the baseline and laid out for the ball to make the stab. It was at least the third line-drive out for Brantley in a span of six games.
3. That prompted Bauer to make what may have been his first public display of affection towards a teammate, and it was caught by the Dodger television network SportsNet LA.“The past 10 or 15 days he’s hit a lot of balls hard right at people. I kind of felt like he could use a hug,” Bauer said.
4. Asked if Brantley was shocked, Bauer said, “I think he was still kind of upset about the outcome of that play.”
5. That might be the last time that happens until the Indians win the World Series. But at least give Bauer, 23, credit for trying to bond with his baseball brothers.
6. The Indians’ victory allowed them to take the series against the Dodgers 2-1 and go 4-4 on the road trip to Arizona, Seattle and LA. Facing an off day Thursday, the Indians flew home feeling good.
7. “Definitely huge,” right fielder Ryan Raburn said. “Any time you go .500 on the road is huge, especially to come here, as well as this team’s been playing, to take two out of three, I think that’s a great confidence boost for us.”
8. Indians manager Terry Francona said, “What, did we go 4-4 and we were gone a month? It seems like it was a long trip, but it was a good way to end it. We’ve got a day off, we won a tough game, that was a big game to win.”
9. Francona said winning the final two games of the series was big because of how well the Dodgers have been playing. Coming into Wednesday, they were 13-5 (.722) in their last 18 games, the best record in the majors. They were 9-3 in their previous 12 games at Dodger Stadium, 8-5 in interleague play and 20-13 against the American League since the start of last season, the fourth-best record in the majors in that span.
10. “They’re good – their bullpen, their starters, they’re running some pretty good pitching out at you,” Francona said.
11. Bauer gave his best answer when he talked about the trip. “I think we came out of it pretty well, actually,” he said. “Obviously we had a couple rough ones in a row, getting one-hit twice. To come back and win the last two games of the series was big for us. Finish the road trip .500, that’s big. If we can play .500 on the road and take care of business at home, we can start moving in the direction we want to go.”
12. Bauer grew up in Santa Clarita, Calif., and pitched for three seasons at UCLA. He started in front of family and friends, but said that didn’t make the day feel any differently. Although Bauer gave up three runs in the fifth and seemed to lose it after an RBI double down the left field line by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, Francona wasn’t too hard on Bauer in his evaluation.
13. “He got into about the second inning and I think he found his breaking ball and got on a pretty good roll for a little bit. We didn’t do a real good job handling their pitchers,” Francona said as Ryu went 2 for 2. “When Ryu got that hit, it seemed like he starting elevating a little bit and it cost him three runs. But other than that I thought he was really good.”
14. Bauer didn’t agree that Ryu's double rattled him. “I just missed with some pitches,” he said. “Obviously to (Dee) Gordon, I’m trying to throw a strike. Just one of those at-bats where things kind of got out of place (as Gordon walked). I thought I threw some decent pitches to (A.J.) Ellis and ended up walking him, too, missed with a fastball. But that happens. I felt a little out of synch that whole inning. That inning kind of got away from me a little bit, but it could have been worse, too. I got out of it only down one. Guys did a good job of coming back against a difficult bullpen and putting some runs up and winning the game. It was a good team effort.”
15. Francona stuck with closer Cody Allen for six batters, one in the eighth and five in the ninth. With runners on second and third with two out in the ninth and Matt Kemp up, he sent pitching coach Mickey Callaway to the mound.
16. “There’s a lot of faith in Cody and I think it’s well deserved,” Francona said. “He’s proven that he likes to be out there and he can handle it. He walked (Hanley) Ramirez and gave up the bloop double (to Andre Ethier) because we’re playing no doubles. We wanted to let him catch his breath and go get the next hitter.”
17. Kemp flew out to the warning track in center with Brantley making the catch.
18. Raburn was impressed with Ryu, who got no decision. He was going for his 10th victory, which would have tied him for the National League wins lead. Ryu gave up two runs on seven hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. Raburn said he hit a fastball for his second home run of the season.
19. “He’s got a good changeup, he throws all his pitches for strikes,” Raburn said of Ryu. “We were able to battle. We only scored two runs, but just to get those two was good enough. He’s a good pitcher.”