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Bauer: Respect for Tigers; no intent to hit

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer took his seat inside the interview room across the hall from the clubhouse at Progressive Field, wearing a morose expression. The Indians pitcher wanted to get something out of the way before answering any questions from reporters.

"First off, I want to extend my apologies to Ian, Victor and Miguel," Bauer said after Cleveland's 9-5 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

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CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer took his seat inside the interview room across the hall from the clubhouse at Progressive Field, wearing a morose expression. The Indians pitcher wanted to get something out of the way before answering any questions from reporters.

"First off, I want to extend my apologies to Ian, Victor and Miguel," Bauer said after Cleveland's 9-5 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

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That would be Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, who were each hit by a pitch from Bauer in the Tribe's loss to Detroit. In his first outing as the de facto No. 2 starter -- a situation forced upon Bauer by circumstance -- the right-hander's control abandoned him in spurts, led to six runs allowed and cost Cleveland a chance to continue to build upon its division lead.

The American League Central-leading Indians still hold a seven-game lead over the Tigers, and the Tribe's magic number remains at seven to clinch a division title. That is the good news. There has certainly been plenty of bad news of late, with starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco being shelved for the rest of the season with injuries.

It goes without saying that the Indians need more from Bauer than what took place Sunday.

"Confidence is never going to be a factor," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He can get out good hitters. Today was kind of a weird day and it seemed like it got in the way of the game for a couple innings there. You don't want to see that happen."

Video: DET@CLE: Francona on Bauer's performance in loss

Bauer sidestepped harm in the first two innings, but his control went missing in the third.

After already hitting Cabrera with a pitch in the first, Bauer opened the third inning with an errant offering that sailed high and inside on Kinsler, striking Detroit's second baseman in the helmet. The pitcher immediately dropped his glove and lowered into a crouch, watching with concern as Kinsler was checked by the Tigers' medical staff. When Kinsler was cleared to take his base, Bauer made eye contact and apologetically patted his chest with his hand.

"I would never intentionally throw at someone's head," Bauer said. "That has no place in the game. I know saying sorry for it doesn't change that it happened. I'm glad that he seemed to be OK and nothing else came of it."

Bauer then issued a walk and allowed a single to Cabrera, loading the bases for Martinez. Still wanting to establish the inside part of the plate, Cleveland catcher Chris Gimenez called for a cutter on the inner half. The pitch tailed too far inside, striking Martinez in the front leg. Detroit's designated hitter rolled in pain on the ground, and Kinsler began barking at home-plate umpire Jordan Baker after crossing the plate.

"He was definitely upset that we had hit three of their better guys," Gimenez said of Kinsler. "I know it does look really bad. Anytime somebody on your team gets hit, or three guys, let alone two in an inning, there's always going to be that jawing back and forth. In the heat of the moment, you don't really think about the situation.

"Obviously, bases loaded with Victor up, that's not exactly the right time to hit somebody. We wouldn't want to hit him anyway. I don't know why we'd want to hit him to begin with. I understand it. And I know Trevor does, too, and I know he felt bad. It's just kind of one of those things that unfortunately happened."

Later in the inning, Erick Aybar capitalized on Bauer's command woes with a two-run single to right field. In the fifth, Tigers slugger Justin Upton launched a three-run home run, which traveled a projected 451 feet, according to Statcast™. On the blast, Upton flipped his bat, took five slow steps out of the box and then began a long trot around the bases.

Under the circumstances, Gimenez did not challenge Upton's celebration.

"Given the situation, I have to have a little bit longer of a leash on that," Gimenez said. "I completely understand it. He definitely took his time around the bases, too, but the situation of the game, I completely understand it."

Video: DET@CLE: Justin Upton hammers 451-foot home run

When the smoke cleared, Bauer had allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, in which he struck out five, walked two, fired a wild pitch that led to a run in the sixth and tied a club record with the three hit batsmen. Francona called it "an understatement" to say that the right-hander struggled with his command.

Bauer took responsibility for what transpired.

"I have a very healthy respect for them, their whole lineup," Bauer said. "I enjoy pitching against them, because they're really good. I'm not trying to hit anybody. I'm trying to compete and execute pitches and get them out. I didn't do that as well as I can today. It wasn't intentional. And like I said, I wanted to extend my apologies to them."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer