August Fagerstrom's final thoughts following the Indians come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Yankees at home on Tuesday:
1) Hats off to this Indians lineup for handing Masahiro Tanaka the worst loss of his short big-league career. The Japanese "rookie" has barely looked human for the majority of this season, but you wouldn't be able to tell after what the Tribe lineup did to him tonight. His five earned runs and 10 hits allowed were a season (thus, major league career) high. It was also the first time he's allowed more than eight hits in a game along with a homer and a walk.
"We don’t care who's out there," said Indians first basemen Nick Swisher. "We're a scrappy squad. We battle and we fight. It may not be pretty for the first six or seven innings, but we always find ourselves getting back in the game. You could put Cy Young out there and were going to fight, we're going to battle."
2) It was a game of ups and downs for Nick Swisher. In the fifth inning, he allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach via error for the second time in the game when a routine ground ball rolled right through his legs in Buckner-esque fashion. On one hand, this is the kind of thing that reinforces why Swisher has been the designated hitter in 13 of 17 games since returning from the disabled list. On the other hand, it makes you wonder if maybe he would have made that play were he seeing more time in the field.
"I need to clean up my defense for sure," Swisher said. "But on the offensive end, things are really turning in the right direction for me."
Could be the case, as Swisher's go-ahead home run in the seventh inning was his second in as many days.
“That was a huge hit by Swish," said Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer. "And he’s had quite a few of those for us lately.”
3) Hats off to Trevor Bauer, too, for again outpitching one of the game's premier pitchers in his age-23 season. What's most impressive about Bauer's production, echoed by several Indians in the clubhouse after the game, is Bauer's ability to get better as the game goes on. Much was made in Justin Verlander's heyday of his ability to ramp up his velocity in the late innings. Bauer has shown the same ability, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
"You'd love to see a guy come out and put up zeroes right off the bat, but I think its still a good sign that hes into the seventh inning and it's his best inning," said Tribe manager Terry Francona. "I think that really speaks volumes. You see a lot of good pitchers that have that quality."
Bauer credits his conditioning.
"I work really hard on that type of stuff and my mechanics, making sure that I use my whole body to generate velocity so that one muscle group doesn’t get overused,” Bauer said.
With that being said, Bauer admitted to having a difficult time getting comfortable in a game situation in the early goings. Francona added it's something they need to work on.
4) Bauer's ability to get better as the game goes on is one way of showing his competitive spirit, which he takes very seriously. What I love more than that is his mindset of how he approaches the game and attacking hitters:
"I do the same thing after every pitch: Throw it, assess the game situation and figure out what I’m going to throw next.”
“[My approach is to] find out what they’re weakness is and attack it, within the scope of my game plan. Every hitter has a weakness. You can get everybody out. Some guys are just tougher to get out than others.”
5) Michael Brantley continues to be the heart and soul of this Indians team, both at the plate and in the field. Brantley made a great over-the-shoulder snag on the warning track in the first inning that looks even better in hindsight, considering the three errors the Indians committed behind Bauer.
At the plate, Brantley was the driving force behind Tanaka's worst MLB start, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI and his team-leading 14th home run. He also leads the team with 60 RBI.
"I don’t even know how to put it in terms," said Bauer of Brantley's impact. "Even the outs he makes are good outs. It's almost like a sigh of relief when he gets to the plate. It’s like. ‘OK, Brantley’s at the plate, we’re in a good spot.’"
August Fagerstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow August on Twitter @AugustF_ABJ.