CLEVELAND — Over the last three years, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer has proven to be a front-of-the-rotation starter at the Major League level, but in two of his last three outings, it has been a struggle to make it through five innings.
In a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 6, Bauer allowed eight runs, seven of which were earned, and 10 hits, and after settling things in a start at Oakland, he struggled to stay in favorable counts and surrendered another seven runs in five innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field Thursday night.
“I’m not exactly sure what my biggest problem was, but that was definitely one of them,” Bauer said of Baltimore’s plate discipline. “I felt like I’m throwing pretty good pitches and guys are doing a good job of taking balls.
“My out-of-the-zone chase rate is really low, first-pitch strike percentage is way down, so when I get to a 2-2 count, I’m getting there 1-0, 2-0. Some of those deep counts, getting to 3-2 counts after 3-0, 3-1, 3-2 is a lot different. I’ve got to be better. My teammates, the organization, the fans depend on me and count on me to be better than I am right now, and I need to live up to those expectations.”
After throwing at least 105 pitches in each of his first seven starts, Bauer has lasted less than 100 in two of his last three outings. Also, Bauer’s earned run average jumped from a miniscule 1.99 on April 25 to 3.76 following Thursday’s start.
Against Baltimore, Bauer gave up two runs in the top of the second inning, three more in the third, and then, in the fifth frame, surrendered another two. Bauer allowed a two-run home run to third baseman Rio Ruiz in the second inning, and then, a three-run blast to right fielder Trey Mancini in the third.
“I give up a hit on a well-executed pitch,” Bauer said. “I got a ground ball, and then, threw a pitch right where I wanted to, all the numbers say that it’s a safe spot to go to, it’s the least damaging area, and it wasn’t, so that was the second inning.
“In the third, I walk someone, got another ground ball on the infield that on a different day, maybe it’s hit a foot or two differently and it’s a double play and I’m out of the inning, but it goes through. Then, I executed a 1-1 pitch exactly where I wanted to, to (Trey) Mancini and he hit it out.”
While Indians manager Terry Francona attributed the struggles against the Orioles to “a lot of deep counts” and command that “wasn’t very good,” Bauer will spend time before making his next start using his trusted scientific approach to the game in an effort to straighten things out.
“The first four hits I gave up, I felt like I executed the pitch exactly how I wanted to and how the numbers say I should,” Bauer said. “In the fifth, I gave up a double, and that was the only one where I threw a bad pitch and it went for a hit tonight, so it’s a little confusing when you look at it that way, but again, I’ve got to be ahead in the count, putting guys on the defensive instead of behind and working my way back in, letting guys feel comfortable in the box.
“That starts with throwing quality pitches on 0-0 counts and working ahead. I’ve just got to be better at that.”