Bauer's development continues in win over Detroit
MAY 20, 2014 11:43p ET
Facing the most potent lineup in the American League, Bauer allowed only two runs in six innings on Tuesday night as the Indians took their second straight from the Tigers at Progressive Field 6-2.
"I thought I threw the ball well," Bauer said. "I gave the team a chance to win and it was nice to do that especially in first one after being called up."
This was Bauer's first career outing against the Tigers as he gave up seven hits while walking three and striking out five. The only runs he gave up were solo home runs to Tori Hunter in the first and Alex Avila in the fifth.
Hunter's blast to left-center on a 3-1 count gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead two batters into the game. It could have rattled Bauer but it didn't. He knew coming in that Detroit was going to get its hits but the key to containing them was not allowing runners on base.
Said Bauer of the Hunter home run: "I don't want to walk him and he hit the crap out of the ball. He's a professional hitter and that's going to happen. Good for him. With Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) coming up, if Hunter gets on base and Cabrear hits a home run it is two runs instead of one."
Bauer's first Tribe start this season was on April 9 when he was the "26th man" in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Padres. He pitched well that day, allowing just a run on six hits over six innings while recording a career-high eight strikeouts. He pitched well enough to win, but the Indians didn't give Bauer any run support in a 2-1 loss.
Bauer didn't have to worry about that on Tuesday night as the Indians got to Justin Verlander early, including a four-run second to take control. The Tribe had 12 hits as everyone had at least one. Michael Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher led the way with two each.
The Indians also had a clean game on defense in support of Bauer. They turned three double plays including one in the sixth where Bauer covered at first base and made an athletic play to get Nick Castellanos. In the fifth, Michael Brantley got his fifth outfield assist of the season when he got Ian Kinsler trying to extend a single into a double.
When it had chances, Detroit was unable to capitalize as it went 0 of 5 with runners in scoring position.
"He competed, pitched in and was aggressive attacking the strike zone. He changed speeds and used all his pitches," said Terry Francona of Bauer. "The things he said to (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) between innings about letting guys back into counts. He's starting to understand that when he pitches ahead, it doesn't matter what pitches he uses his stuff is good."
Of the 25 batters Bauer faced, he fell behind on only nine. Of the 95 pitches he threw, 62 were strikes. The right-hander went mostly with the four-seam fastball (44 pitches) but did a nice job of mixing things up in his five strikeouts with two third-strike cutters, two sliders and a curve. According to Brooks Baseball, Bauer threw 19 sliders, 16 cutters, three changeups and curveballs.
"He was confident, had good mound presence and working quickly," said third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. "It keeps your team in the game and pumped up, your defense focused. It is night and day compared to what we saw last year. We knew he had the stuff but since spring training on he's been chugging."
The win should also continue to help Bauer's confidence grow. All four of his starts last year were one-day stints in the Majors and he admitted that he didn't feel like he was contributing much.
After being acquired in the three-team deal with Arizona and Cincinnati that involved Shin-Soo Choo, Bauer had to work through some issues with his delivery and also had to earn the trust of the Indians' staff. It wasn't easy from either side, but the results are starting to pay off.
At Columbus this season, Bauer was 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA with 44 strikeouts against 14 walks. So far this year, Bauer has the appearance of a guy who was the fourth overall selection by Arizona in the 2011 Draft.
Bauer should have a chance to settle into the rotation even more since he knows he has a spot. His next start is scheduled to be Sunday in the finale of a four-game set at Baltimore.
"I just feel like I'm in a better place as a pitcher. That lends itself to comfort," he said. "I'm feeling like I'm in a good spot personally."
Added Francona: "He's been pitching really well the whole year. Last year he had to work through some frustrations and he has. Now we're starting to see a young pitcher develop into one that can help our rotation, that's very exciting."