Team effort keeps Tribe alive
CLEVELAND -- What the Indians did on Wednesday was very likely a case of too little, too late, but at least it keeps the faintest of hopes alive.
Cleveland is barely breathing after a 6-4 win over Kansas City on Wednesday night to salvage at least one of three games.
The good news is should a miracle happen -- the Tribe sweep the Rays and the Royals get swept in their four games against the White Sox -- Cleveland would host the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series (10-9). Believe it or not, the Indians could also force a tiebreaker with a sweep and Oakland being swept in their four-game set at Texas. Keep in mind the Rangers swept the Athletics in Oakland last week.
(As for those wondering what the heck happens if there is a three-team tiebreak, there are better chances of hitting a $100 million Powerball jackpot.)
While some have started to reflect on the season, Trevor Bauer isn't. Since this was likely his final start of the year, Bauer was asked to reflect on the year and instead said that he wanted to talk about the game.
For the right-hander though, it was an outing that we have seen for most of the season -- good in spots and struggling in others. Bauer was given a three-run cushion in the first on a Yan Gomes home run but allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts.
In 26 starts, Bauer is 5-8 with a 4.18 ERA. In assessing Bauer's season, manager Terry Francona pointed to a ton of growth and development but also subtly alluded to something else -- Bauer's reputation to be stubborn and try to go his own way.
Said Francona of Bauer: "Over the winter, he's going to be very cognizant and aware of everything he wants to do. I just hope that he allows Mickey (pitching coach Mickey Callaway) to kind of really (help), because Mickey is so conscious of wanting to help so bad. I just think there's a lot there. If Trevor can make the strides he did this year, there's a really good pitcher in there."
When asked if the pressure of pitching to keep the Indians' playoff hopes alive factored into the rough outing, Bauer said it didn't. However, in his last 13 outings, Bauer was 1-4 with a 4.48 ERA. The Indians were 6-7 during that span.
"It's still the same game -- make pitches," he said. "It's not like I'm out there sitting on the mound thinking 'Oh shoot if I don't make a pitch here we might lose and the season is going to end and I'm going to let down everyone here.' I try to go out and execute the game plan the best I can."
The Tribe was able to rally due to 4 2/3 shutout innings by the bullpen. Zach McAllister, Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen allowed only two hits and a walk with three strikeouts. McAllister, who went 2 1/3 innings, got his first victory since April 21 and Shaw tied a team record Bobby Howry's franchise mark for most appearances in a season with his AL-leading 79th.
Michael Brantley went 3 for 4 as he is one hit shy of reaching 200 for the season. He needs one hit and three RBI in the Tampa Bay series to join Ryan Braun (2009) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2011) as the only players since 2003 to reach 200 hits, 30 doubles, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases in a season.
Thursday's off day ends a string of 30 games in 30 days in which the Tribe went 17-13. They won six of the nine series but a combined 5-8 against the Royals and Tigers are likely to have them fall short of advancing to the postseason.
They also could be officially eliminated if Oakland and Kansas City both win on Thursday.
"I think the day off tomorrow is very welcome. That seemed like a lot of baseball," Francona said. "I think the day off will be really good for these guys. And then we'll come back this weekend and see what we can do."