CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Ask Trevor Bauer about his night after each start and you will generally get a different answer than the perception you took in.
The Indians became the first team in baseball in 2017 to have three pitchers with 12 wins thanks to Bauer’s 6 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, scattering seven hits along the way.
How did Trevor feel about putting his team in the best possible chance to win?
“I wasn’t sharp tonight,” he said. “I got a lot of balls barreled right at people and they made really good defensive plays.”
The first part of that statement is up to interpretation by the man throwing the pitches, but the latter was true. The Indians defense, normally aided by Bauer’s 26.4 K% and 10.22 K/9, had to make more plays on the night given that the righty only K’ed four.
Those plays were doozies.
“I was able to make a couple of pitches when I needed to, but mostly it was – Carlos made two outstanding plays at first, made a couple of other good ones, Kip made a really nice play, Urshela made a really great play at third,” Bauer said. “The defense played really well.”
The effort behind Bauer was spear-headed by Santana at first, who has had a breakout year defensively. It started in the first inning when the 5-foot-11 (his listed height) first baseman stabbed an Eric Hosmer line drive.
Santana went on to do it again to Hosmer, who rifled his bat into the ground in a fit of déjà vu.
The 31-year old former catcher has often been criticized for his perceived lack of contributions defensively. But Santana came into the night second in the American League among first baseman with 6 defensive runs saved, one off of Boston’s Mitch Moreland for the lead.
“Well I would say for the most part of the year, he likes playing first more than DH’ing,” Manager Terry Francona said of Santana. “Since he does, I think it’s a way to keep him involved more, and we keep Edwin’s bat in the lineup more where he doesn’t really need days off. Seems to be working pretty well.”
While keeping the Royals bats quiet, Francona used his bench shrewdly by bringing on defensive-minded youngsters Giovany Urshela and Bradley Zimmer for Jason Kipnis and Austin Jackson, respectively.
The skipper said the availability of the second- and first-year players allowed him to rest his veterans.
“You’re always trying to win the game you’re playing, and trying to keep an eye on Kip and same thing with Austin,” he said. “We want both of them to play tomorrow. So the one nice thing is, not only are you not giving up any defense, but you’re putting in two premier defenders. So you can do things like that.”