DETROIT — Considering the high bar the Indians rotation has set for itself and the early season struggles of the lineup, a four-run outing might count as a rough start when in many other places that might seem a bit harsh.
For the Indians and Trevor Bauer, regardless of how it's counted, it ended in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Bauer, coming off two tremendous outings to start the season, was tagged for four earned runs on 10 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. He was also taken deep twice, first by Niko Goodrum in the first inning and then in the sixth by John Hicks.
"He mislocated. I don’t think it was his best day of locating," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Saying that, I think they deserve some credit. Sometimes the way you beat a good pitcher, you’ve heard me say it, is make ‘em work, make ‘em work. For everything. And if you make a mistake, don’t miss it. That’s kind of what happened."
It's the first time Bauer (1-1) has given up at least four earned runs since July 20 of last season against the Texas Rangers. It was also the first time since Sept. 15 of 2017 he has allowed multiple home runs in the same regular-season outing.
"They hit some good pitches, they hit some bad pitches," Bauer said. "Broken-bat flare with [Miguel Cabrera] and the next pitch is a home run, so that cost me a run. The last ball, James pounded into the ground and bounced 800 times up the middle and just found a hole. ... Just due for a little bit of correction. Gave up one hit through the first two [starts] and it all balances out."
Wednesday's game featured Nick Wittgren's Indians debut after he was called up on Tuesday to give the bullpen some extra depth with Mike Clevinger being placed on the injured list. Wittgren allowed one hit and recorded four strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.
"Yeah, it was good," Wittgren said. "The first one, you kind of want to get it out of the way, get in, do your job, get out. A couple more pitches than I would have liked, but I went in and just tried to pound the strike zone, really."
The Indians lineup struggled to handle Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd (1-1). After the Tigers (8-4) built a 2-0 lead in the first inning, the Indians (7-4) were kept off the scoreboard until the sixth, when Hanley Ramirez's two-out double scored Leonys Martin, who was hit by a pitch.
The Indians had a chance for a two-out rally in the eighth with the bases loaded on three walks. But Greg Allen grounded into a fielder's choice against Tigers reliever Buck Farmer to end the threat.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.