After a ten-game, three-city road trip, the Cleveland Indians returned home to Progressive Field with an overworked bullpen that was in need of rest, and time off is exactly what they got on Monday night, courtesy of Tribe starter Trevor Bauer.
Bauer went 6.2 innings of three-run, eight-hit baseball and struck out six hitters in the Indians' 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
"I thought he competed his rear-end off. I thought he executed a lot of pitches," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think he got a real good feel for his curveball. I thought he threw enough sliders to keep them off. There were some times where maybe he made a few mistakes that they hit, but he held them off the scoreboard and stayed out there long enough."
Bauer threw 119 pitches, and said he could have gone even longer than the 6.2 innings despite "fighting my mechanics a little bit" throughout the game.
"I can go 130, 140, 200, whatever," Bauer said. "I train myself to be able to do that. I throw a lot, and I did that all of college. Obviously, it was seven days, but I'm very used to throwing that many pitches and maintaining my stuff deep into games.
"I would've liked to last longer, be more efficient, but I battled through it. I pitch every fifth day, so I'd rather go out there and do that for the pen, throw a lot of pitches. I train to be able to do that and hopefully, as time goes on, I'll be able to throw more pitches and go deeper into games, especially on nights when I'm not as efficient as I'd like to be. It felt good to go out there and prove that I could still handle it and be part of the game."
Bauer's efforts gave the Indians their 10th straight victory at Progressive Field and third straight overall after a four-game slide in the middle of the road trip.
"You always want your pitchers to try to go deep into the game," Indians center fielder Michael Bourn told Sportstime Ohio after the win. "They've got a good line-up over there, and he was able to hold it intact. He has good stuff and he's still learning. He's a competitor up there and we like him up there."
Bourn registered two of the Indians' six hits against the Angels and scored two of their four runs, one of which came on shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run home run that gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
"I don't know if I hit the ball all over the place, but I got some bloop hits," Bourn said. "I just tried to see the ball and hit the ball. I tried to slow myself down, tell myself to be patient.
"Sometimes, you get in a hurry when you're hitting and you figure you've got to get it all back in one day. (I) just tried to take it one day at a time, be patient, try to put the ball in play. I was able to find some holes today, and I was happy about it."
Indians left fielder Michael Brantley left Monday's game early with an undisclosed injury, which Francona later described as a neck issue stemming from a hard slide into second base that caused him to hit the left knee of Angels shortstop, and former Indian, John McDonald.
"When he broke up that double play, he got banged in the side of the head a little bit," Francona said. "He's passed all of the initial concussion tests, which is very good. His neck's a little stiff. I think the hope is he'll wake up and feel good, clear-headed, and then, we'll see how his neck feels."
HOME SWEET HOME
With Monday's win at Progressive Field, the Indians now hold an American League-best 22-11 record at home. Only the San Francisco Giants (23-15) and Miami Marlins (23-14) have more home wins than the Indians this season.
"I love the fact," Francona said. "I wish we played more games at home, but that's been so long ago that I don't really have an (answer). We were on such a long road trip that I don't have a good explanation."
Indians reliever Carlos Carrasco added, "I think we feel comfortable. That's what we need to do on the road trips too."