CLEVELAND -- As heavy rain poured onto Progressive Field Monday night, Trevor Bauer sat in the Indians' dugout itching to get back on the mound to complete his outing and perhaps reach a historic feat.But nature had a different outcome in mind.It was another great start for the right-hander, but
CLEVELAND -- As heavy rain poured onto Progressive Field Monday night, Trevor Bauer sat in the Indians' dugout itching to get back on the mound to complete his outing and perhaps reach a historic feat.
But nature had a different outcome in mind.
It was another great start for the right-hander, but he came just two strikeouts short of something very special. A 35-minute rain delay shortened Bauer's outing to seven innings in the Tribe's 6-2 win over the White Sox. Only manager Terry Francona could deliver the news to Bauer that his night was over after the delay -- ending the 27-year-old pitcher's bid at history.
"[Pitching coach] Carl Willis is lucky he didn't come tell me, I told him anyone but Tito and I was throwing fists," Bauer joked. "I'm sitting there in the dugout thinking, 'You know, the hard stuff is not going to come down for quite a while."
Bauer's night ended after 100 pitches. He did not allow a run and gave up just three hits and walked two while striking out eight. Bauer finished two strikeouts shy of recording at least 10 strikeouts in five straight starts -- it would have been just the 16th time in the history of the American League, and the 29th time in Major League history.
"Boy, I give him credit," Francona said. "Even during the rain delay he was politicking. It just doesn't make sense to be in, but I gotta tell you, if you're going to get into a little bit of a push and shove, I like it that he wants to stay in."
Despite pleas from Bauer to stay in the game, Francona favored longevity for his pitcher rather than risking something happening to Bauer if he came back out.
"I respect the hell out of that," Francona said. "I don't have any doubt he could have done it, too."
All three hits allowed by Bauer came in his first two innings of work. Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu both singled in the first. Bauer also gave up a one-out double to Matt Davidson in the second, but stranded Chicago's designated hitter after back-to-back swinging strikeouts to escape the jam.
As Bauer's pitch count continued to rise, so did his efficiency -- after giving up the double to Davidson, he retired 17 of the last 19 batters he faced. Through Bauer's last seven outings, he's registered a 1.99 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks through 49 2/3 innings.
"What's so impressive is as he gets into the game, not only does he hold his stuff -- like a lot of good pitchers, he gets the feel of his pitches," Francona said. "A lot of pitches get through that third time through the order and you start to worry a little bit. But because he hasn't been going so many deep counts and his stuff gets better, he's every bit as effective."
For Bauer, he boiled his success down into a science.
"Tonight the first three or four innings, my body just felt sluggish," Bauer said. "Once I kind of got in a groove there, the velocity started coming back, and I think a lot of that has to do with the tunneling approach I designed into my repertoire."
The Tribe taxed Sox starter Dylan Covey for five runs -- four earned -- across five innings. He fell to 3-2 for the year. Hector Santiago walked in Cleveland's final run in the sixth.
Bauer's name may not have ended in the record books after this start. But his teammates will take what they can get.
"He works so hard to get ahead and throw strike one and then put guys away," catcher Roberto Perez said. "He's pitching his tail off, and hopefully he keeps doing that the rest of the way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bauer earned the bulk of his run support in the second inning on a rally that got started on a leadoff single by Lonnie Chisenhall. Rajai Davis reached on a fielding error by Moncada, and Jason Kipnis loaded the bases with a well-placed bunt down the third-base line. Kipnis' bunt set the table for Perez, who scored two runs on a ground-rule double to the right-field corner. Francisco Lindor capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Kipnis.
Perez, who battled flu-like symptoms throughout the day, finished the game 2-for-3, but it marked the first two-RBI game for Perez this season and the first RBI for the catcher since May 22 against the Cubs. It was only the backstop's second appearance -- and first at home -- since being hit on the right hand on June 10 in Detroit.
"Maybe it was good, because he looked so relaxed because he didn't have much energy," Francona said. "But he took a really good swing, and he took a good swing later and that was obviously a huge hit."
Kipnis delivered his fifth homer of the season in the fifth inning and finished 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and two RBIs. It's the second baseman's second three-hit game of the year -- also doing so on April 12 in Detroit. Kipnis -- who is slashing .207/.284/.320 in 66 games -- is hitting .333 (14-for-42) across his last 11 home games with three home runs, two doubles, six runs and seven RBIs.
"Obviously, his year hasn't gone the way he's wanted so far, but his mindset and his attitude have been awesome," Bauer said of Kipnis. "So, I'm really happy that he had a night like tonight."
MARSHALL EXITS GAME
Right-handed reliever Evan Marshall exited the game with soreness in his throwing elbow in the eighth inning. Marshall started the inning and struck out out Charlie Tilson, but hit a batter and gave up a run on back-to-back singles before he was checked out by Indians' training staff.
"The way he termed it was that he flicked the nerve," Francona said. "I think we'll know a lot more tomorrow."
If it's any consolation to Bauer, who improved to 6-5, he was the third pitcher in franchise history to reach at least 10 punchouts in at least four consecutive games -- joining Corey Kluber, who has two five-start stretches of double-digit strikeouts in 2017, and Bob Feller, who did reach the feat between outings in 1938-39.
Had Bauer struck out at least 10 in five straight, he would have joined Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Chris Sale, David Price, Johan Santana and Kluber as the only AL pitchers to acheive the feat. The MLB record belongs to Sale, who strung together eight starts, once in 2015 and again in '17, and Martinez -- who did it in 1999.
Bauer's 129 strikeouts through the team's first 71 games are the most by an Indians pitcher since Sam McDowell had 151 in 1970 -- though McDowell had already made 19 starts compared to Bauer's 15.
HE SAID IT
"The good Lord would never disrupt the best game of my life. Apparently, he did. Just happy the team got a win, honestly." -- Bauer
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (5-2, 3.15 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday and look to follow up his Thursday start against the White Sox, in which he struck out a career-high 11 and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over seven innings. The White Sox will counter with left-hander Carlos Rodon (0-1, 3.60). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Casey Harrison is reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.