World Series: Starter’s struggles lead to long night in Cleveland
Trevor Bauer is the kind of guy who can show you how to make a cheese sandwich in 37 easy steps.
The Indians’ No. 2 postseason starter/No. 1 flake could write a book on pitching theory that makes “War and Peace” read like a tweet, but it’s easier to deal with his flakiness when he’s mowing down hitters, rather than getting his finger caught in his drone’s propeller blades.
With Bauer, you don’t get to choose. The good and the bad come in the same package, like when Time Warner gives you Lifetime and ESPN.
On Wednesday night, with Carlos Carrasco hurt and Danny Salazar still recovering, Indians manager Terry Francona had no choice but to turn to the guy who had thrown just 21 pitches between Game 1 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the World Series.
To quote the immortal philosopher Liz Lemon, it didn’t go great.
Bauer had his typical first-inning struggles without his typical later-innings success. He needed 71 pitches to get nine outs, and it seemed like he took 71 seconds between each pitch. By the time he was lifted with two outs in the fourth, he’d thrown 87 pitches — one fewer than Corey Kluber, who worked six-plus innings in Game 1 — and the Indians trailed 2-0.
Cleveland needed more, especially with Jake Arrieta looking a lot like … well, Jake Arrieta.
“I thought (Bauer’s struggles) were partially because they (the Cubs) never let him settle into the game,” Francona said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. … Our staff worked behind (in the count) a lot tonight, more than is helpful, and I think some of their hitters deserve a lot of credit for that also. They didn’t chase (pitches out of the strike zone).”
The Indians ultimately used six relievers and if there’s a silver lining, none of them were named Andrew Miller or Cody Allen. If Josh Tomlin can pitch the way he did in his first two playoff outings (2-0, 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings), Cleveland will have a chance to hand Corey Kluber the ball on Saturday with a 2-1 series lead.
If not, well, that just puts more pressure on Bauer to bounce back in Game 5.
“We knew that we were going to be challenged, just because they’re really good,” Francona said. “They beat us tonight. It wasn’t because somebody had a bad finger.”
Maybe Francona’s right. Maybe Bauer’s finger didn’t matter. Maybe Bauer’s layoff didn’t matter. Maybe the only way to beat the Cubs is with Corey Kluber and a couple well-timed rainouts. Maybe Bauer’s best wouldn’t have been enough.
Would have been nice to find out, though.
— You can reach Joe Scalzo at email@example.com or on Twitter @jscalzoREP.