CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Trevor Bauer does not spend a whole lot of time talking about himself. The right-hander will talk about what he thought were good pitches or good outings.
Bauer does acknowledge one thing about himself, and that is that he is a competitor.
The often criticized 26-year old thrives in positions of importance, at least mentally. He was presented with plenty of those moments in Thursday’s win, the seventh in a row for the Indians.
The starter entered the 7th inning with 92 pitches, and found himself in position for a no decision despite a gem of an outing so far. Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons singled up the middle to start the frame, followed by a double to left by former Indian Luis Valbuena.
At that moment, Bauer was the focal point of the game.
“It was kind of one of those things where it’s like, ‘All right. I’ve got one of two options. It’s either give up runs here and we probably lose or I find some way to get out of it,” he said.
Bauer chose the latter, inducing a groundout from first baseman C.J. Cron, striking out pinch-hitter Yunel Escobar, and inducing another grounder from second baseman Kaleb Cowart in order.
That wasn’t the end for Bauer, despite ending the inning with 109.
He returned for the 8th inning on a day where the team was without top setup men Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller. Bauer responded by sitting down Ben Revere, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in order on seven pitches in the penultimate inning.
Manager Terry Francona was thrilled by his starter’s ability to stay in the game.
“Boy, did he clutch up. He had to get himself out of a couple innings. He competed like crazy. On a day when, I don’t know he maybe struck out a handful of guys. Man, did he pitch really well.
“It seemed like he got stronger as he went. He made some pitches when he had to, that’s probably the understatement.”
One of the things that stand out about Bauer’s last two innings was that five of his six outs came on fastballs.
Why is this of interest?
Bauer has focused on increasing the use of his curveball, which he considers his best pitch, and that idea is backed up by the fact that it is the righty’s only pitch he throws 10% or more and has a positive value.
Of Bauer’s 24 outs recorded, 16 of them came by way of his arsenal of three fastballs. Only three of his seven hits surrendered came on fastballs.
Major league hitters adjust, and the book is out on Bauer’s increased curveball. The fact that he was able to have such success with his fastball is a good sign, one which he says was born out of the same game plan that has helped Mike Clevinger.
“I’ve been focusing a lot of curve recently. Today it was trying to attack the strike zone throughout the whole count,” he said. “I think my first two starts of the second-half, I’ve been a little bit off command wise. My walk totals have really killed me, killed my pitch count.”
“I had a good pen this cycle with that intent, basically pound the zone. And Mickey kind of said something that stuck with me. He said give up more 0-2 hits. Not that you want to give up 0-2 hits, but the mentality of continuing to attack the zone, even in two-strike counts, not letting hitters get back in the count. That kind of stuck with me. I think I did a much better job of that today, throwing competitive pitches when I was ahead.”
Bauer recorded a strike out and surrendered a double, both to Valbuena, on 0-2 counts.