CLEVELAND – The Indians did not cross the 90-foot path between third base and home plate on Friday night.
Leaving 11 runners on base and batting 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position certainly played a factor in the scoreless performance at the plate.
Despite Trevor Bauer’s improvement after a four-run second inning, the Tribe offense could not take advantage of five free passes, losing 5-0 to the Twins in a display of missed opportunities at Progressive Field.
Bauer recovers from four-run second
Eddie Rosario singled in a run before scoring on Jorge’s Polanco’s third home run of the campaign, the second of which came off Bauer. Brian Dozier furthered the four-run rally with an RBI double to the deepest part of the ballpark in center field.
“He threw too many pitches that were catching too much of the plate,” said manager Terry Francona. “It was just a lot of misses that inning.”
The 26-year-old right-hander broke down the troubling second inning in extensive detail following the contest.
“(Max) Kepler hit a good changeup down and away for a leadoff double,” Bauer said. “I made a really good pitch to Rosario that blew him up. It wasn’t even hit hard enough to even get an out. And then Polanco hit the home run. 3-2, I don’t want to walk him so I made the decision to get more of the plate, made sure to elevate it because he doesn’t hit—I don’t think he has a hit on a fastball from a righty in the upper third of the zone this year, and he hit that one. Not a great pitch, but I defend the logic behind throwing it. Walk (Jason) Castro, not a good idea. Then try to get Dozier on a fastball away, came back, good pitch but he hit it. I don’t know.”
Aside from the chaotic frame, Bauer retired 16 of the 20 hitters he faced to register a final line of 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (111 pitches, 73 strikes, 65.8%, six groundouts, four flyouts).
“When you have a BABIP as high as mine you have to strike out more people to be successful,” said Bauer. “I just wasn’t able to strike people out when I got to two strikes tonight.”
Boone Logan and Shawn Armstrong combined for 2.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen.
“There have been a lot of games in very few days in this stretch so I just tried to get as deep as possible to save the bullpen if nothing else, keep the team in it,” said Bauer. “Our offense has been hitting the ball really well and four runs isn’t a whole lot for us. I just tried to keep it there. We had chances. It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t come through.”
Offense unable to capitalize in the clutch
Erik Gonzalez struck out with the bases-loaded on two occasions, making him responsible for six of the home nine’s 11 runners left on base.
“When we get the runners on, we just weren’t able to do anything,” Francona said. “We started either chasing out of the zone or getting ourselves in a hole and weren’t able to capitalize.”
Adalberto Mejia was effectively wild throughout his outing, walking five batters but only allowing two harmless singles to Lonnie Chisenhall and Daniel Robertson in five clean innings.
“He’s got size and he’s got pretty good stuff,” said Francona. “He wasn’t commanding I’m sure like he wanted to, or sometimes like younger pitchers can. We just weren’t able to get (runs).”
The two teams will reconvene on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Corey Kluber (6-2, 3.58) logged his best start of the season on Monday in Baltimore, throwing his fifth career shutout with 11 strikeouts on 108 pitches. Although the 31-year-old has not faced the Twins this season, he has held the players on their roster to a .198/.272/.363 (36-for-182) career slash line.
RHP Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.56) is clinging to his spot in the Minnesota rotation, allowing three or more runs in 10 of his 12 appearances. The former Missouri standout took the loss vs. Cleveland on Sunday despite recording a quality start.
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.