Pitching dominates, Indians split doubleheader with Padres
McAllister wins game one before Bauer takes tough-luck loss in game two
CLEVELAND—Even Meat Loaf knows that two out of three ain’t bad.
The Indians and Padres split Wednesday’s traditional doubleheader, as pitching was the name of the game in the twin bill.
Despite a win and loss on the day, the Tribe was still able to take the three-game series improving to 8-4 all-time against San Diego since 2003.
One word to describe game one: Dominant
Tossing just four innings in his first start in Oakland, right-hander Zach McAllister (1-0, 2.31 ERA) matched a career-high going a scoreless 7 2/3 innings, as the Indians shutout San Diego, 2-0.
“I feel like I have a little bit better stuff than last year,” McAllister said. “I just had a good mix today and was aggressive in the strike zone.”
The six-foot-six, 240 pound starter allowed just five hits in the ballgame, striking out seven without issuing a walk. He threw 70 of his 99 pitches on the afternoon for strikes, and left to a standing ovation from the crowd in the eighth.
“It was definitely nice,” McAllister said. “It’s good knowing fans have your back. “My mentality was to get three outs and try and go out there for the next inning.”
That was all the runs McAllister would need, picking up his first win of 2014.
“When he’s commanding his fastball and then having the change-up to go with it, he made it really tough,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Anytime you have 18 innings to play, it’s great not getting deep in the bullpen the first game.”
Two words to describe game two: Instant replay
Major League Baseball implementing instant replay in the game is a good thing. Close plays can now be accurately viewed and called without a quick judgment call by an umpire crew.
Or so we thought.
“I caught the ball and hit the fence with possession of the ball,” right fielder Elliot Johnson said. “I don’t know, I think I took six or seven steps. If you go look at it, I mean let’s use some common sense.”
It was Johnson that found himself at the center of an Indians replay challenge from the very first inning in game two. After a throwing error by Asdrubal Cabrera put San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera on second with nobody out, Chris Denorfia hit a fly ball that Johnson “caught” on the warning track in right field. Upon transfer, the ball fell to the ground and crew chief Bob Davidson called off the catch, awarding Denorfia with a double.
“To me, it’s a catch and a throw, two separate things,” Johnson said. “I caught the ball and went to throw it. I did drop it obviously; I get that part of it. But let’s use some common sense, it was a catch. It was an out.”
The error and eventual replay ruling gave San Diego the early one run lead one batter later on a RBI groundout by outfielder Seth Smith.
“It needs to be clear what defines the act of dropping it, because it can get ridiculous, it can get out of hand,” Johnson said.
Despite the replay debacle, Indians starting pitching would shine again in game two. Like McAllister, Tribe starter Trevor Bauer (0-1, 1.50 ERA) also had a career day Wednesday, striking out a career-high eight batters over six strong innings of work.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get much run support as a sac fly by Mike Aviles would be all the offense the Tribe could muster up against Padres southpaw Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.35 ERA). The left-hander allowed just four hits and struck out six through six innings.
Bauer put up similar numbers, but took the tough-luck loss allowing only one earned run, where Cleveland fell in game two, 2-1.
“It felt good to pitch well and give the team a chance to win,” Bauer said. “I don’t look at it as the culmination of what I’ve been working on, it’s just another start and it feels good to make progress.”
The 23-year-old showed great poise and control, in what was by far the best start of his big league career.
"I definitely feel comfortable up here," Bauer said. "Knowing teammates and everyone around makes me feel the most comfortable."
In nine career starts in the majors, the right-handed phenom is 2-5 with a 5.03 ERA, striking out 36 in 39 1/3 innings.
Bauer gave up what would eventually be the game-winning hit to San Diego third baseman Chase Headley in the sixth. The Tribe offense had one more shot to tie the ballgame in the bottom of the ninth, but closer Huston Street worked around trouble to notch the save.
“He was lights out,” Johnson said of the Indians starter. “He was a power pitcher today, throwing gas right by guys and throwing his off-speed stuff for strikes. “He was really, really impressive. He was a big leaguer today, there’s no doubt about that.”
Bauer and McAllister combined to throw 13 2/3 innings on day, allowing just one earned run on nine hits, walking two and striking out 15.
“Besides Masterson, the first go through really wasn’t well for any of us,” McAllister said on the starting rotation. “We battled and competed, we know we have to do better than we did.”
Cleveland starters may have struggled early, but they have quickly quieted the naysayers.
Over their last three games, McAllister, Bauer and Corey Kluber have gone a combined 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA, surrendering just four earned runs in 19 2/3 innings.
Up next for Indians: The Tribe travel to the Southside of Chicago for a four-game series against division rival White Sox. Right-hander Danny Salazar (0-0, 3.18 ERA) will take the hill for the Wahoo’s versus ChiSox lefty John Danks (0-0, 3.86 ERA) in Thursday’s series opener at 8:10 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am trying to find an answer to that play at first where Murphy did not touch the bag as he avoided the pitcher. Can that pitcher block the bag and if so can a runner knock him down in an attempt to touch the bag? Does the new catcher rule apply to other bases besides home plate? Murphy could have taken out that pitcher and may have injured him had he not try to avoid the collision and as a result missed tagging first. Could that umpire simply called him safe as they would have done had that play been at the plate? Does anyone know that answer?
Let's see what McAllister does against the Tigers next week.
Bauer teased us all yesterday. Hard for many to remember he's 23 years old and was very much rushed to the bigs by Arizona.
Anyway with Bauer you could see there was some more velocity, but the biggest thing was he kept the damage to a minimum after a very questionable call with the Johnson "error" and didn't panic. He got himself out if the inning. Yes the strikeouts do look pretty but he also had some at bats where he induced some weak grounders and lazy fly ball outs.
The 6th inning to me was his biggest encouraging moment. He gave up the first 2 walks of the game getting himself into trouble, but managed to get out with just the 1 run.
Unfortunately the Indians offense took the double header off yesterday. Might as well have had Bauer lead off the game instead of Johnson.
I think today was also McAllister best pitched game as an Cleveland Indian.