Smoke Signals: Bauer Steps Up, Bullpen Implodes, Robertson Homers

CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Trevor Bauer did not have a quality start on Tuesday in the Indians 7-5 loss against the Dodgers, but do not get it twisted. The start was of high quality.

Bauer simply ran out of gas at the end of the 6th inning, up over 100 pitches when he walked Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson to load the bases.

Those were the only two free passes for the righty following one to Cody Bellinger in the 1st, and Bauer’s only undoing was a fastball right over the middle to Yasiel Puig. That pitch was sent to the bullpens, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

chart 4 Smoke Signals: Bauer Steps Up, Bullpen Implodes, Robertson Homers

With three-time Cy Young winner and former NL MVP Clayton Kershaw on the hill for the opponent, Bauer pitched perhaps his best all-around start of the season. The outing comes as no surprise, as both Bauer and Manager Terry Francona have acknowledged that the 26-year old tends to rise to the occasion when faced with a challenge.

“I do think he looks for a reason, and I don’t care what it is. It could be that his socks don’t smell good. I don’t care,” Francona said. “I was leaving the other night before the day off, I said something to him, you could tell he was already [locked in], that’s good, because it’s hard to imagine coming into a game against Kershaw where you’re going to get 10.”

Bauer, defiant as always, did not believe that it was one of his better games, saying that he threw more bad pitches than just the one to Puig. He also said that there was not necessarily any extra motivation this time around.

“I don’t know if there is or not,” he said. “It is hard to tell how much adrenaline you have. There shouldn’t be, you should be able to bring that energy every night you pitch.

“Actually, I threw a lot of bad pitches tonight that didn’t get hit. 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.”

Exploding ‘Pen

In what was the 2017 equivalent of opposite day, Bauer’s excellent evening was spoiled by the lack of success from the Tribe bullpen.

Andrew Miller started the pen’s night off with the biggest at-bat of the evening, striking out Puig on four pitches to escape the 6th with the game tied. The game’s top reliever followed that up with a perfect 7th inning, but allowed a home run to rookie Cody Bellinger to start the 8th.

Miller was not particularly sharp, speaking purely relatively, but admitted as much.

“I was 3-0 to a couple guys,” he said. “I need to be better at getting ahead and throwing strikes. Neither of my pitches I had great command of. So, there were a couple flashes where it was pretty good, but it came back to bite me at the end.”

Unfortunately that was just the beginning.

Bryan Shaw relieved Miller a batter later, only to walk the first two batters, the first of which would come around to score.

In the 9th inning, Dan Otero allowed back to back base hits before Boone Logan allowed Bellinger’s second home run of the night, a game-deciding three-run shot that proved too much despite an Indians comeback.

The Indians entered the night with the best ERA in baseball at 2.36, as well as the game’s best FIP and xFIP. They were also third in the league in WAR, according to FanGraphs.

Laser Show

With his two home runs, Bellinger now has 17 in his short 45 game career, tying him for Wally Berger for the 2nd most ever in 45 career games. That trails only the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez, who had 19 last season.

The rookie has four multi-homer games the third Dodgers rookie to do so, joining Mike Piazza (five such games in 1993) and teammate Corey Seager (4 in 2016).

He also has homered in back-to-back games, the first Dodger to do so since Adrian Beltre on August 19th and 20th, 2004.

Joining the home run derby was Daniel Robertson, who homered for the first time in his career in the 9th inning. Robertson’s 351 career plate appearances prior to the dinger was the longest without a longball among active players.

Robertson said his excitement was pocketed by the fact the team was losing.

“I had no feeling whatsoever,” he said. “I hate to be, I’m not a Debbie downer or anything, but I didn’t much feeling because it was a 7-2 game and I was trying to get on base. 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 you’re trying to do. I thought at that moment we were in the game. I thought all we needed was another baserunner. That’s where my mind was. It was just about getting the next guy to the plate.”

Under the Weather

Terry Francona was unavailable for comment following the game, with bench coach Brad Mills filling in for him after Francona left the bench in the last two innings of the game.

The manager was said to be under the weather, and no further update was given.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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