CLEVELAND — The sun was out at Progressive Field and the temperature was 74 degrees at first pitch. It was a beautiful day at the ballpark — for everyone but the Indians.
With Trevor Bauer offering up one of the worst outings of his career and Cleveland’s offense still doing next to nothing, Chicago opened a four-game series with an emphatic 9-1 win Monday night.
Bauer has struggled with his command of late, walking 10 over his two previous starts covering 15 innings. The right-hander didn’t have trouble throwing strikes against the White Sox, just missing bats.
Chicago had a 2-0 lead two hitters into the game on a home run from Yoan Moncada and it got worse from there.
Bauer allowed another run in the third inning and another homer in the fourth, with the White Sox chasing him in the sixth before he was able to record an out.
“I thought his stuff was fine. He just caught too much of the plate too many times,” manager Terry Francona said. “It was right from the get-go. From pretty much one through nine, they really swung the bats. When he missed, they made him pay for it.”
Oddly enough, Bauer, who allowed career highs in runs (eight) and earned runs (seven) took something positive from the outing.
“Actually, in a lot of ways I felt I was better tonight than I have been recently,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take a step backward to take two steps forward. Tonight was definitely a step backward results-wise, obviously. But I was ahead of a lot more hitters, I had a lot more two-strike counts, threw a lot more first-pitch strikes, had a lot less three-ball counts, lot less walks and free baserunners. (I) felt like that was something I prioritized, stop beating myself. And I did that. I didn’t beat myself tonight. They beat me, for sure.”
Bauer said White Sox hitters took a different approach against him than other teams have as of late.
“They were aggressive. Teams haven’t really been aggressive against me recently,” he said. “So it was probably just a combination of me shifting back to try and throw more strikes early and them being aggressive, which I haven’t seen recently. And then one of those nights where everything’s going to go their way. They hit some really bad pitches really hard. And they hit some really good pitches really hard. And then even balls they miss-hit were hits. Just one of those nights, I guess.”
Bauer allowed more than four earned runs for the first time since May 8, 2017, snapping his streak at 60 starts. It’s the longest streak since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux accomplished as much over 106 starts from July 11, 1991, to June 22, 1994.
For the second straight day, the Indians were shut down by a struggling starting pitcher without a win.
On Sunday, it was right-hander Erik Swanson, who entered the game with an 0-3 record and 6.62 ERA. This time around it was right-hander Ivan Nova (0-3) and his 8.33 ERA.
Cleveland went scoreless and managed only three hits over the first four innings, scoring its lone run on a two-out single from Jason Kipnis in the fifth.
Nova, who pitched well against the Indians in Cleveland’s home opener — one run on six hits over seven innings — had allowed a combined 20 runs, 31 hits and six homers over three starts prior to Monday.
“It’s kind of your basic fastball, slider, change, and when he’d get in a hitter’s count, he’d throw something off-speed,” Francona said of Nova. “We’re gonna have to start earning getting fastballs, either by laying off or (whatever), because right now we’re a little bit predictable. Especially when runners get on base, it becomes more glaring.”
The Indians, who own the worst offense in the American League, have scored 10 runs over their last five games — one in the last two.
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