CLEVELAND – One location mistake tends to be the defining moment of a tightly contested ballgame.
For Andrew Miller, one hanging slider over the middle of the plate proved to be the difference.
The Indians fell victim to Cody Bellinger’s 16th and 17th career home runs (45 games played) and lost 7-5 to the Dodgers on Tuesday evening at Progressive Field.
Roberto Perez’s homer off Clayton Kershaw provided a spark, but two swings of the bat spelled out the Tribe’s 30th defeat of 2017. Daniel Robertson also notched a mark in the home run column for the first time in his brief major league tenure (351 career plate appearances).
Bauer works past long ball; Miller takes the loss
Yasiel Puig leveled a two-out, two-run homer off Trevor Bauer in the second inning to pull the road nine ahead.
“I’m sure that he would say that he’d like to have a couple of those pitches (back),” said bench coach Brad Mills. “Put him in some better counts, keep the pitch count down.”
Bauer was able to settle in and departed to a respectable line of 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K (108 pitches, 63 strikes, 58.3%, nine groundouts, two flyouts).
“Actually, I threw a lot of bad pitches tonight that didn’t get hit,” Bauer said. “For the first time all year, I think the results were better than I actually pitched. I was glad I was able to keep the team close on a night that I wasn’t my best.
The climactic moment in the ballgame came in the sixth, when Miller left all three of his inherited runners stranded on a bases-loaded strikeout of Puig…
Shortly thereafter, Bellinger homered for the fourth and fifth time in his last three games of action to put Miller in line for the loss. The latter of the two bombs was a three-run blast off Boone Logan.
“[Bellinger] was pretty good tonight,” Mills said. “He was able to get the bat head to a couple balls (and) really deposit them where we’d rather him not. But at the same time, he was putting some pretty good swings from some pretty good left-hand pitchers.”
Miller took the decision on just the second earned run charged to him this season.
“Obviously I didn’t do my part,” said Miller. “I felt like I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be and was able to kind of grind through it. It was just a pretty poor at-bat. Obviously, it’s easy to look back and see what I could’ve done differently. Overall, I just need to be sharper and make better pitches.”
Kershaw registers quality start
The two-time MVP bent but did not break in the early stages, allowing at least one hit in each of his first three innings with only one run surrendered. Michael Brantley singled in Robertson (double) to cut the two-run deficit in half.
“We know he’s a good pitcher, but I would expect guys are going up there grinding out at-bats,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re facing. He’s really good. His track record speaks to that. It doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable. He has lost a couple games. He was good tonight.”
Perez furthered the offensive effort with his first home run of the year, a 430-foot solo shot to the bleachers in left field.
“The guys had some real good at-bats,” said Mills. “To go into the seventh inning tied at that point with some traffic that [they] weren’t able to score, was nice to get.”
The backup catcher’s last four home runs have been quite notable…
Kershaw cleaned up his ledger with two scoreless innings before Pedro Baez set down all three hitters he faced.
“He is one of the best in the game,” Robertson said. “He’s Clayton Kershaw. The guy is on a pedestal, probably, that few sit on, and I think tonight we battled with him.”
Robertson lifted a three-run bomb to left field in the ninth, but his first career home run was too little, too late.
“I had no feeling whatsoever,” said Robertson. “I knew that if i could bring Kipnis to the plate it would be one run closer to seven. So after I it, I was pumped because we got a little bit of momentum, and when you roll over the top of the order and you have to pitch to Kipnis, Frankie and Brantley, that’s what your trying to do.”
Manager Terry Francona left the game in the ninth inning with an illness.
Central Division update
The Twins (33-28) tallied 20 runs in a win over the Mariners, the Tigers (30-33) lost to the Diamondbacks and the White Sox (28-35) held the upper hand on the Orioles.
The series continues on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.38) is a perfect 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this month, proving his full recovery from a lower back strain in early May. Dodgers’ hitters are slashing .289/.308/.553 off the 2014 AL Cy Young winner.
RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.28) has pieced together his best season since 2012, keeping his opposition to a .233 batting average with a 1.11 WHIP to boot. The 33-year-old journeyman suffered from left shoulder soreness earlier in the campaign.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.