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Bauer's Father's Day checklist: Shutout, sweep

@MandyBell02
June 16, 2019

DETROIT -- It’s time to add tossing a shutout to Trevor Bauer’s resume. The 28-year-old right-hander had gone the distance twice in his career before, but never had he thrown nine scoreless frames. That changed in the series finale against the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park, as Bauer allowed

DETROIT -- It’s time to add tossing a shutout to Trevor Bauer’s resume.

The 28-year-old right-hander had gone the distance twice in his career before, but never had he thrown nine scoreless frames. That changed in the series finale against the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park, as Bauer allowed just four hits and struck out eight on 117 pitches in the Indians’ 8-0 victory.

Box score

“Any time you go out there and throw nine innings and don’t give up any runs, you’re doing a lot of things right,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Early in the game, he pitched around that leadoff triple. At that time, it was a 1-0 game. From there, we got him some runs and he really settled in.”

Bauer walked off the mound in the eighth, having thrown 101 pitches. For a guy who has averaged 112.6 pitches per outing this season, there was no doubt in his, or his manager’s, mind that he’d be coming back out for the ninth.

“Mostly, I was just upset that my strikeouts were lagging, so I was trying to get ahead of people to get some strikeouts,” Bauer said. “Got a lot of first-pitch outs, which kept the pitch count down, and no walks. How about that? If I could have punched out the side in the ninth, I could have gotten to 10 and no walks, and I think that’s rarefied air, or something.”

There was a stretch over his last few starts when a number of unearned runs scored with Bauer on the rubber, including a four-error game against the White Sox on May 31. But the outcome was completely opposite Sunday, with a diving grab by left fielder Oscar Mercado saving a run after a leadoff triple in the second inning.

“Mercado made a huge catch,” Bauer said. “It really changes the flow of the game. It preserves the lead. Was able to get out of that second inning with the lead, instead of just giving a run right back. That was a really great play by him. Jake [Bauers] picked a couple of balls at first that were huge. All around, a really great team win.”

Indians pitchers have now been responsible for three shutouts this season, beginning with Carlos Carrasco’s rain-shortened, five-inning complete outing on May 9 before Shane Bieber’s 15 strikeout, nine-frame performance against the Orioles 10 days later. The feat secured Bauer’s first win since April 30, a stretch in which he had gone 0-5 with a 4.88 ERA heading into Sunday’s start.

"They definitely pitched, and the guy today is an animal out there,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He's got great stuff, a very fierce competitor, and really spun the ball on us and used his fastball when he needed it. He's done that to us before. Give him credit, a lot of credit, but we didn't do too well today.”

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Bauer had gotten off to a hot start to the season, posting a 1.99 ERA in his first six starts. In Miami on April 30, he started to feel off, stating, “I suck right now,” after a four-run, 10-strikeout outing. He went on to have a 5.50 ERA through May.

Then something similar happened with him at the end of his skid: After his four-run (two earned), six-inning start on May 26, he thought he pitched really well. He, again, predicted what was to come. Since then, he’s pitched to a 2.39 ERA (10 ER in 37 2/3 innings).

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“I had some mechanical stuff that was out of whack,” Bauer said. “Couldn’t figure out what it was. Very minute. Really wasn’t able to move the way that I needed to move. Still not. ... Once I saw and was able to identify what was going on and why, I can compensate around that. I train myself. I train the adjustments in the offseason. I can still go out there and compete and give what I have, and be happy to see the results match how I pitched.”

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