The Cleveland Indians closed out the month of August with a 19-9 record, and in doing so, increased their lead over both the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals in the American League Central Division as the playoff chase heats up.
The Indians had success while playing every game against teams above the .500 mark and with nine players, most being key contributors, on the disabled list because of a myriad of injuries.
“It doesn’t matter,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You play when they tell you to, and you try to win when you play.”
The Indians earned their sixth straight victory with a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York City on Wednesday afternoon.
The Indians started fast against Yankees pitcher Jaime Garcia and scored a pair of runs in their first trip to the plate.
The Indians kept the Yankees at bay through standout plays from shortstop Francisco Lindor, including a diving stop and throw over to first base to retire catcher Gary Sanchez with a runner on base in the bottom of the third inning. The Yankees went on to score a run in the third inning, and Lindor’s stop proved important to preserve the lead.
“That’s the kind of game where if you don’t make a play, you’re probably either still playing or lose,” Francona said. “We scored two early, and then, hung on for dear life, but we played a good game.”
Bauer added, “It was great. It was a big play. In that situation, to get an out, I still hadn’t quite locked in yet, put some free base runners out there and he makes a big play to kind of bail me out of that.
“That inning looks a lot differently if he doesn’t, and he almost made another one late in the game. Actually, he almost had two. He had one on Sanchez, and then, (Ronald) Torreyes, where he made a nice diving play. He’s playing really well defensively.”
Despite surrendering four walks, Bauer (14-8) allowed just four hits and one earned run over six-plus innings of work. He struck out four Yankees hitters, and on the way to his 14th victory of the year, lowered his earned run average to 4.46.
Although Bauer did not have his best stuff against the Yankees, he fought his way to get the game into the hands of the bullpen, who helped him earn a team-leading 14th win of the season.
“That’s great,” Bauer said. “We have confidence in everyone down there.
“Obviously, we try to give them as many innings as possible so they don’t get worn out, but when they do come into the game, it’s a nice feeling. As a starter, I’m very confident that they’re going to shut it down and keep it right where it’s at, give the offense time to come back or preserve the lead.”