Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona isn’t a big fan of meetings. So when he gathered the starting pitchers on Friday in Houston, the intention was more to give them a chance to speak their minds.
“Meetings can be overrated,” Francona said. “There are times when you want to talk to guys, that’s kind of how I felt. I think sometimes a manager lets it go too long and you scream. Nobody gets anything out of that but the manager, relieve some stress.”
The Indians’ rotation has gotten off to a slow start this season, with a collective ERA of 5.99 entering Tuesday night. That includes Corey Kluber, who posted a 5.06 ERA in six starts before landing on the disabled list with a sore back.
The one exception has been right-hander Mike Clevinger, who has shined since taking Kluber’s spot in the rotation with a 1.56 ERA.
One of those pitchers who has been scuffling is right-hander Trevor Bauer, who will take the mound against the Cincinnati Reds (21-24) on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Coverage of Indians vs. Reds begins at 5:30 p.m. on SportsTime Ohio & FOX Sports Ohio
Bauer has a 6.65 ERA through eight starts, although he allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings on Friday to defeat the Houston Astros for the seventh straight time in his career.
The 26-year-old Bauer will be facing a familiar foe. He’s 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA in three starts against Cincinnati.
Bauer owns a career interleague record of 7-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 appearances, including 15 starts.
Francona said he’s not concerned about the mental psyche of his starters, particularly Bauer.
“When you’re giving up more runs than you want to, your confidence isn’t going to be at an all-time high,” Francona said.
The same might apply to Reds right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, who will face the Indians (24-20) for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old Bonilla is 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in three appearances, including two starts.
Bonilla is averaging six innings per start, including a complete-game eight-inning stint at San Francisco on May 13, a 3-1 loss to the Giants.
Bonilla was pitching well in his last start on Friday against the Colorado Rockies when he was hit on the hand while attempting to bunt in the fifth inning. He remained in the game, but then allowed four of his six earned runs in the sixth inning.
Cincinnati has won or tied 12 of the 20 series with the Indians, including nine of the last 11, but lost the last two season series (1-5, 0-4).
The Reds won one of two games at Great American Ball Park this week. But the Tribe has been dominant at home, winning five straight and 14 of the past 15 games against them at Progressive Field.
If the first two games of this series are any indication, there should be plenty of fireworks in Cleveland the next two nights.
On Tuesday night, Cincinnati rallied from a 7-3 deficit to tie the score on Eugenio Suarez’s pinch-hit, three-run homer in the seventh, but the Indians managed to win 8-7.
“We’re a hard team to take lightly, even after you get ahead,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.