Bauer simply bested by aggressive White Sox

May 7th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- After ’s four-run, seven-inning start in Miami last time on the mound, he was quite blunt about how he felt his outing went: “I suck right now.”

Despite making it through seven frames and recording 10 strikeouts in last Tuesday’s win, the Indians right-hander felt worse about his stuff and mechanics against Miami than he did during Monday’s 9-1 loss to the White Sox at Progressive Field.

“In a lot of ways I felt I was better tonight than I have been recently,” Bauer said. “Sometimes you have to take a step backward to take two steps forward. Tonight was definitely a step backward results-wise, obviously. But I was ahead of a lot more hitters. I had a lot more two-strike counts. [I] threw a lot more first-pitch strikes. Had a lot less three-ball counts. A lot less walks and free baserunners. [I] felt like that was something I prioritized. Stop beating myself. And I did that. I didn’t beat myself tonight. They beat me, for sure.”

In his shortest start of the year, Bauer matched his career highs in runs allowed (eight) and earned runs (seven) through five-plus innings of work. He snapped a 60-start streak of allowing four earned runs or fewer, which was the second-longest streak in the Majors since 1970 (Greg Maddux, 106 starts).

“They were aggressive,” Bauer said. “Teams haven’t really been aggressive against me recently. So it was probably just a combination of me shifting back to try and throw more strikes early than being aggressive, which I haven’t seen recently. And then one of those nights where everything’s going to go their way. They hit some really bad pitches really hard. And they hit some really good pitches really hard. And then even balls they mis-hit were hits. Just one of those nights, I guess.”

Bauer gave up two home runs -- a two-run shot in the first by Yoan Moncada and a solo blast by James McCann in the fourth -- and struck out seven.

"The big thing with him is he has such good stuff and so many weapons to put you away with, you don’t want to get two strikes,” McCann said. “You see his numbers, he strikes people out because he has good stuff. The plan was to get our pitch and not miss it and not allow ourselves to get in two strike counts."

With both Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger on the injured list, a lot of the team’s weight will fall on Bauer’s shoulders through the next month of the season, until at least Clevinger is able to return. And while Bauer had a rough night on the mound, the Indians are not concerned that this will be a pattern that continues through his future starts.

“I thought his stuff was fine,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He just caught too much of the plate too many times. And you’re right, it was right from the get-go. From pretty much one through nine, they really swung the bats. When he missed, they made him pay for it.”

“Today they got to him. I think it’s not always going to happen,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “For every probably eight good starts there’s going to be two bad starts or something like that for Trevor. It just happens. It’s the game of baseball. You guys really need to realize how long it is and sometimes you just have an off-night.”

Indians’ struggles vs. Nova continue

After the Indians’ offense was shut down by Ivan Nova in their first matchup of the year on April 1, scoring just one run through his seven innings on the mound, the club struggled against the right-hander again on Monday. Nova gave the White Sox their second seven-inning outing of the season -- the first coming in his last start against Cleveland -- and allowed one run on eight hits.

“It’s kind of your basic fastball, slider, change, and when he’d get in a hitter’s count, he’d throw something offspeed,” Francona said. “We’re gonna have to start earning getting fastballs, either by laying off or ya know … ’cause right now we’re a little bit predictable. Especially when runners get on base, it becomes more glaring.”

In two outings against the Indians in 2019, Nova has posted a 1.29 ERA with the Tribe logging a .601 OPS, while the Chicago hurler has pitched to a 10.36 ERA with a 1.033 opponent OPS in his five other starts this season.

“Guys are working,” Kipnis said. “There’s gonna be low points in a season like this and you don’t want guys to start pressing too much. You want guys to lock in and focus and play the game the right way. It’ll come around. This team’s pretty good. The fact that we have the record we do and we don’t really have too many people playing that well, I think shows how good we can be. So we know as soon as we all figure it out or get it really going there’s going to be a lot of wins coming our way.”