Total team effort lead Indians to 5-3 win over Yankees
Bauer tosses seven dominant innings, Brantley and Swisher go deep
CLEVELAND—He is without question a star in the making.
Just call him the city’s new favorite No. 23.
Looking to bounce back after a loss to New York in the series opener Monday, All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley led a total team effort by the Tribe Tuesday night. Behind solid starting pitching and timely hitting, the Indians rallied to take down the Yanks, 5-3.
“That’s probably the difference between us and maybe some of the other squads out there,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “We don’t care who’s out there. We’re a scrappy squad, we battle, we fight and we always find ourselves getting back into a game.”
They needed to do just that against arguably baseball’s best pitcher to date, Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 2.51 ERA), sending the Yankee right-hander to the worst start of his major league career.
Allowing a season-high five runs on 10 hits, Tanaka went 6 2/3 innings against Indians bats, walking one and striking out five. Coming into the ballgame, the right-hander was an unbeaten 10-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 12 starts against teams he faced for the first time.
“I thought as a group tonight, our lineup did a really good job of trying to lay off balls that were out of the zone, manager Terry Francona said.
It was the same lineup that would pick up Tribe starter Trevor Bauer (3-4, 4.23 ERA) late in the contest when he needed it the most.
For the second night in a row, New York struck for the game’s first run in the early innings. A leadoff walk to Brett Gardner and a single by Jacoby Ellsbury led to a Yankees run on an RBI bloop single by Mark Teixeira in the first. Then the Indians gift wrapped a run courtesy of a Yan Gomes throwing error, giving them a quick 2-0 lead.
Cleveland came right back for a run in the home half of the first, thanks in large part to the play of second baseman Jason Kipnis. The left-handed hitter stroked a base-hit up the middle, stole second and scored on a RBI double by Brantley.
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, Dr. Smooth struck again. Newly acquired outfielder Chris Dickerson led off the fifth with a single, before Brantley lined his second RBI double down the left field line.
“He’s just a pro hitter that’s all there is to it,” Swisher said. “I could not be more proud of the guy going to the All-Star Game. He’s doing it this year and coming into his own.”
Swisher could realistically say some of the same things about him, belting a go-ahead two-run homer off Tanaka in the sixth to give the Tribe their first lead. The hit coming one inning after the first baseman made his ninth error of the season, the third Cleveland defensive mishap in the game.
“I really kind of think things are turning around for me,” Swisher said. “I need to clean up my defensive game for sure, but the offensive end, things are really turning in the right direction.”
With seven homers on the year, it marked his second long ball in as many nights against his former team.
“We need him for us to get where we want to go,” Francona said. “I don’t think the first five innings he was having a ball, but he got better late.”
Brantley ended Tanaka’s night one inning later in the seventh, going yard already for the 14th time in 2014 to cap off a 3-for-4 performance.
“It makes it easy,” Francona said. “Tonight against one of the better pitchers in the game he spanks a double down the right field line, hits a double to left and then hits a home run to right-center.
“It’s almost a sigh of relief when he steps to the plate,” Bauer said. “Hopefully he continues to do that and I’m sure he will.”
Bauer out-dueled Tanaka greatly Tuesday, tossing seven dominant innings of work giving up just two earned runs on four hits for his third win.
“Early on we made it a little harder on Trevor than it was supposed to be,” Francona said. “Between a couple walks and errors, he certainly threw more pitches early, but after that he kind of got dialed in.”
Bauer danced in and out of trouble, retiring 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced while walking two and striking out six.
“It seemed like right after about his 70th pitch, he had another gear,” Francona said. “You see a lot of good pitchers have that quality. I thought he did a great job to whether it.”
It was the right-hander’s seventh consecutive quality start at Progressive Field dating back to May of last season, improving to 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA lifetime at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
“It takes me a little while to get comfortable,” Bauer said. “When I did, my velocity picked up a little bit, my stuff was a little sharper and I was able to locate better. I think it has a lot to do with my conditioning and how I throw a lot and being able to maintain that. I work really hard on that stuff.”
Cleveland (44-45) improved to 31-5 when scoring five or more runs in a ballgame, having totaled at least 10 hits in three of their last four games.
Up next for Indians: The Wahoos look to make it two straight against New York Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (5-6, 4.11 ERA) gets the start opposite of newly acquired Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy (3-10, 5.01 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trevor Bauer is one of the keys going into the second half if the Indians have any hope of making the playoffs. If he gets back to pitching like he did in April lookout.
Also, last night was another great example of how good of an eye Michael Brantley has at the plate. Tanaka has a slider and splitter that just drop off the table and Brantley still managed to lay off and wait for him to hang a few pitches, which he was able to turn on. He has become one of the smartest hitters I've ever seen. Just can't say enough about his baseball IQ.
IMO we need a bat. Murphy is tailing off into the wilderness and we are using a AAA player as a starter.
Another move I would make would be to move Asdrubal for whatever, put Aviles at short and then find a replacement for Aviles on the bench.