CLEVELAND -- The old adage in sports is offense sells tickets and defense wins championships.
In the case of the Cleveland Indians (41-36, 17-21 home), defensive gems helped starting pitcher Trevor Bauer limit the damage on the way to a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers (39-39) at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
“I don’t care what your vantage point is. If it’s on TV or here, I always want us to win,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We show up at whatever, 10:30, 11 o’clock, the idea is to win. I don’t care if you feel good or bad or in-between. It’s why we’re here.”
Over 6.1 innings of work against the Rangers Wednesday, Bauer scattered four hits and one walk against three strikeouts. Bauer located the strike zone with 61 of his 103 pitches and lowered his season earned run average to 5.24.
Bauer improved to 7-6 on the season with the victory, and he had plenty of help to keep the Rangers at bay.
In the top of the fourth inning, Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, a former Indian in his own right, lined a pitch from Bauer to center field. On a dead run, Zimmer slid into the catch just shy of the warning track for the first out of the frame.
Two batters later, left fielder Nomar Mazara belted a pitch to deep center field, but Zimmer tracked the ball the whole way and hauled in the catch for the final out of the inning.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen him leave his feet yet on purpose,” Francona said. “He fell throwing once, but that was a nice play. That was a really nice play. Then, a couple hitters later, he goes back on a ball that he makes look fairly easy.
“We’ve talked about it several times. He’s done a really good job in center field, and what’s nice is normally, with younger guys, as long as they stay healthy, they’re going to get better as you know the league and know things like that, which is really exciting.”
With runners on first and second and one out in the top of the sixth inning, Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre smoked a ground ball down the third-base line. However, Jose Ramirez made a diving stop while ranging to his right.
After corralling the smash, Ramirez stood up in foul ground and fired a one-hopper to first base for the second out of the frame.
“It would’ve led to (runs),” Francona said. “Playing good defense is (important). We’ve seen in past years the good, the bad, the kind of in-between. The way Trevor’s throwing the ball, when you catch the ball and it ends up where it’s supposed to, you’re going to be in pretty good shape.”