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Bauer brilliant (1 hit, 9 K's) as Tribe tops Twins

Righty goes seven innings; Hanley clobbers 1st Cleveland HR
@MandyBell02
March 30, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off a year where a comebacker to the leg was the only thing that stood between Trevor Bauer and a chance at a Cy Young Award, it's hard to imagine he could have been better to start 2019. With his new-and-improved changeup, Bauer set quite the tone

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off a year where a comebacker to the leg was the only thing that stood between Trevor Bauer and a chance at a Cy Young Award, it's hard to imagine he could have been better to start 2019. With his new-and-improved changeup, Bauer set quite the tone in Saturday’s 2-1 win against the Twins at Target Field.

The Tribe’s 28-year-old right-hander finished his afternoon after seven innings, allowing one run on one hit with one walk, one hit batter and nine strikeouts. Of his 108 pitches, he relied on the four-seamer (36) and changeup (25) the most. Per Statcast, the changeup gave him the most swings-and-misses of the afternoon and averaged about 87.8 mph, which is right in Bauer’s prefered range of 86-87-mph.

“I didn’t give up any hits on it,” Bauer said of his changeup. “I got some swings and misses -- a lot of swings and misses. It worked about as well as I anticipated it would.”

After retiring the first 10 batters he faced, Bauer allowed his first and only hit of the afternoon to Jorge Polanco, who laced a triple to right field. Polanco then scored on a Nelson Cruz groundout. While he was in the process of tossing his one-hitter, the righty was working in extremely cold conditions wearing just his short-sleeved jersey. At first pitch, the temperature was recorded at 34 degrees, which tied for the third-coldest game in the history of Target Field.

“The nice thing is, my changeup is designed to slip, so when there’s no grip on the ball, it makes it really nice,” Bauer said. “I couldn’t throw many curveballs, but the slider and changeup were really good.”

Hanley earning his roster spot

The Indians’ final call when putting together their 25-man roster was Hanley Ramirez. He had been out of Major League action since the Red Sox released him last May and the team took as much time as they could to evaluate whether he was a risk worth taking. It was announced on Opening Day that the 35-year-old had made the roster and it took him just five plate appearances to prove that he does still have some life in his bat. On a 3-0 pitch in the fourth, Ramirez blasted a solo homer to the second deck in left field.

“He had good at-bats all day,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “To just get us on the board -- runs can be hard to come by in March. It's not even April. It's cold. You kind of have to fight for everything you can get.”

It was Ramirez’s first home run since May 12, 2018. The blast was recorded at 113.8 mph, according to Statcast, which is the Indians’ hardest-hit home run since tracking began in 2015.

“I was waiting for this moment right here,” Ramirez said. “... Like I told you guys the first day, I can hit. It’s about timing.”

Allen ready for pinch-hit opportunities

The Indians named Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin as their starting outfielders, leaving Greg Allen and Jordan Luplow as options off the bench. Although it appears as though Bauers and Naquin will be given a shot to be everyday players, Francona has said to expect Allen to come in to pinch-hit or pinch-run late in games when needed. On Saturday, he did just that and brought in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth.

“Really, I think it's just about finding opportunities, and sometimes those opportunities will be off the bench,” Allen said. “And any way you can be able to come in and help and find ways to be of value and contribute and help the team win, that's really where our focus is as a whole.

“And definitely coming off the bench knowing those opportunities may be limited, but if you can make the most of them, it'll definitely help put the team in a good place to help win games.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.