Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers in the first inning Monday against the Minnesota Twins in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND -- The Indians followed a tried and true approach Monday night at Progressive Field in the series opener against Central Division rival Minnesota.
Get right-hander Trevor Bauer an early lead and let him do the rest.
The Indians scored twice in the opening inning and Bauer strengthened his American League Cy Young candidacy with another sparkling outing, as Cleveland won 10-0 in front of 18,620 fans.
It was the third straight win and fifth in the last six games for the Indians, who ended the Twins’ winning streak at three games, while upping their division lead to 10 games.
“We played a good game,” manager Terry Francona said. “It started with Trevor and we got our offense in gear and kind of kept at them.”
Bauer didn’t go the distance, but he was dominant over six innings, allowing only three hits and walking three while striking out 11.
It was the 10th double-digit strikeout game of the season for Bauer, who is tied with Boston’s Chris Sale for the most in the AL -- second in the majors behind Washington’s Max Scherzer (12).
With 206 strikeouts over 159 2/3 innings, he has already reached a career high in the department. He is the 11th different pitcher in franchise history to record 200 or more strikeouts in a single season -- just the fourth to accomplish as much in 24 or fewer starts.
“Historically, they’ve got guys that have decent numbers against him, but boy, his stuff was electric tonight,” Francona said. “There was three walks and a lot of deep counts, but my goodness sakes, he could have kept pitching. And he wanted to, but that’s enough. On a night like tonight, that was plenty.
“He throws so much. He’s conditioned his arm. His last pitch was maybe his best fastball of the night.”
Bauer’s 112th pitch struck out Max Kepler to end the sixth with two on. He pumped his fist after the 3-2 heater got Kepler looking.
Bauer had much more success against Minnesota than he did in two previous outings. He said he made adjustments that caught Twins hitters off guard.
“I threw more fastballs,” said Bauer, who hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of his 24 starts. “I looked at some numbers in between and found the holes in that approach of theirs and exploited them. If they’re gonna sit there and swing (at) sliders, then they can’t be ready for fastballs, so I had a lot of looking strikeouts on fastballs, a couple bad swings on fastballs.
“The change-up was really good. It’s something that stays in the zone a lot longer and it’s hard. I’ve said it a couple times now, the nice thing about being able to throw everything is hitters can’t hit everything. You find out what they’re looking for and you throw something else. I have a lot of weapons that I can punch people out with.”
As he has been often this season, Bauer was in control from the start, retiring six of the first seven hitters he faced before Minnesota got its first hit -- a leadoff single from Jake Cave in the third inning.
The Indians scored two unearned runs in the opening inning before breaking open the game in the fourth against Twins starter Kyle Gibson, who entered the night with a 1-1 record and 2.89 ERA in three outings against Cleveland this year.
Yonder Alonso led off with his 19th home run before Jason Kipnis drew a one-out walk and scored on a double from Roberto Perez. Perez scored when Brandon Guyer followed with a towering two-run shot over the wall in left.
It was the first homer of the season off a right-hander for Guyer, who Francona inserted into the lineup over Melky Cabrera, with Cabrera at
3-for-31 in his career against Gibson.
Edwin Encarnacion added the Indians’ fourth homer of the night with a three-run shot in the seventh.
Cleveland has scored 10-plus runs in a game 14 times this season, accounting for the most in the AL and second in the majors behind the Cubs (15).
The shutout was the 12th for the Indians, matching the Pirates for the most in the majors.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.