Bauer 'gave us everything' in historic G1 start

October 1st, 2020

Reds starting pitcher made history, then fell on the wrong side of it Wednesday afternoon in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series against the Braves. Cincinnati lost, 1-0, in a 13-inning thriller to go down 1-0 in the best-of-three series.

A leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, who had a league-best 1.73 ERA in 11 regular-season starts, Bauer pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed, no walks, a hit batter and 12 strikeouts. And all it earned him was a no-decision.

“To leave the game with a no-decision or nothing, that falls upon us as an offense,” Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas said. “We have to do a better job to pick him up. He did a phenomenal job picking us up the entire game. We have to find a way to do a better job to score a run for him right there. That’s absolutely for sure.”

Besides setting a franchise postseason record for strikeouts, Bauer became the first pitcher in Major League history to throw at least seven innings with no runs, two or fewer hits, no walks and 12 strikeouts in the playoffs.

“We faced a really good team, and they can pitch, and we didn't execute, so we've got to execute better,” said Bauer, who threw 103 pitches. “That's not a postseason thing or a regular-season thing, it's just a thing. If you don't execute, you don't win ballgames.”

Against Braves ace Max Fried and seven relievers, Cincinnati hitters went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 on base.

Bauer had no strikeouts for his first five batters, then struck out the next five in a row. His slider was extremely effective. According to Statcast, he recorded five of his strikeouts with sliders that averaged 80.6 mph. Bauer threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 27 batters he faced -- including 15 of the first 18.

“He continues to respond to every opportunity, every big situation, every big start,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He gave us everything he had. He can pitch. He sure can compete. And it’s fun to watch a pitcher like that just really be in his element, love what he’s doing and get the job done.”

There were a couple of jams to escape for Bauer. His first hit surrendered was an infield single by Ozzie Albies in the fourth inning that put runners on first and second base. But he got Adam Duvall to strike out on three pitches, including an 81 mph slider to end the inning.

Atlanta's second hit was a leadoff double by Ronald Acuña Jr. in the sixth. But Bauer escaped again with three straight outs, including a 96 mph fastball to strike out Travis d'Arnaud, which elicited a big yell as he walked off the mound.

“Big situation obviously in that game, Fried's pitching really well,” Bauer said. “One run, as we saw, was going to be the difference. Leadoff double by Acuña and I have to face the middle of the order, so it was a big moment. As I've done a lot this year, I was able to get out of it. I was thankful to have done that and given us a chance.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Bauer struck out Austin Riley with a 94 mph fastball for the second out, but Bell decided to take him out.

“I knew that he was fatigued going out for that inning,” Bell said. “I mean, you can only ask so much. He never wants to come out of the game, that’s for sure. But sometimes I can tell by the reaction that maybe it was good. I think he probably could have kept going, but at the same time, he got it.”

Bauer walked off mocking a tomahawk chop, the usual move of Braves fans.

"Yeah, we noticed everything he did. That's fine,” said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who delivered the walk-off hit in the 13th. “He had a great performance. He can do whatever he wants when he strikes out 12 over 7 2/3. It doesn't bother us. I'm just glad we got the win."