He became the first pitcher in MLB history to allow just one hit and pitch five or more innings in his first two starts of the season.
On a cold Wednesday afternoon in April, Bauer met that point of the season. He allowed 10 hits and four runs as the Indians fell to the Tigers, 4-1, to end their five-game winning streak.
Bauer was a long way from bad. He just didn’t throw seven no-hit innings as he did against Toronto in his last start. The big Detroit hits were delivered by Nike Goodrum with a two-run homer in the first and Josh Harrison’s 20-hopper through the middle in the sixth for a 4-1 lead.
“I don’t think it was his best day locating, but sometimes they deserve credit, too,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bauer and Detroit hitters. “They made him work for everything, and if he mad a mistake, they didn’t miss it. That’s kind of what happened.
The Tribe’s offense didn’t have much of a showing against left-hander Matthew Boyd. Hanley Ramirez doubled home Leonys Martin with two outs in the sixth for the Tribe’s lone run.
“He did what he’s been doing,” Francona said of Boyd. “He’s been one of the better pitchers in the game for the last year. He’s maybe under the radar to some people. But he has a really good fastball and breaking ball, and he did a really good job of mixing them both up today.”
The Indians trailed by one run, 2-1, and were still in the game because Bauer threw four scoreless innings after Goodrum’s two-run homer in the first.
But just as the Indians got back into the game, the Tigers took them out of it. John Hicks started the sixth with his first homer of the season for a 3-1 lead. Bauer struck out Dustin Peterson, but Gordon Beckham doubled past third. Jordy Mercer flied out to right as Peterson went to third.
Bauer (1-0, 2.29) went to a 3-2 count against Harrison. He thought he had Harrison struck out on a 1-2 pitch, but plate umpire Sean Barber didn’t see it that way. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Harrison sent a seeing-eye single through the middle off a 95 mph fastball for a 4-1 lead.
The Indians’ offense, which produced four homers and eight runs in Tuesday’s 8-2 win, didn’t show much fight Wednesday. They had two chances, both with two outs, to make some noise. The first one came in the sixth.
Boyd (1-1, 2.60) hit Martin to start the inning. He struck out Jose Ramirez and Jordan Luplow, but Carlos Santana walked to keep the inning going. Hanley Ramirez doubled sharply into the gap in left center as Martin scored and Santana went to third. Jake Bauers, with a chance to put the Tribe on top or at least tie, took a called third strike from Boyd to end the inning.
They loaded the bases in the eighth as Joe Jimenez walked Santana, Hanley Ramirez and Bauers with two out. Greg Allen pinch hit for Roberto Perez, who had two hits and a walk, and sent a sharp grounder to Harrison’s right at second base. Harrison caught the ball in the heel of his glove and flipped to second for the force on a close play.
Bauer, who went 4-0 against the Tribe last year, struck out seven and walked one. He is 8-6 with a 5.66 ERA in 17 career game against Detroit.
In Bauer’s last two starts, he’s thrown 117 and 115 pitches. He threw 65 percent of those pitches (150-for-232) for strikes. The major league average for a starter is 63 percent per game.
“They hit some good pitches and hit some bad pitches,” Bauer said. “I got one swing-and-miss pitch on my best swing-and-miss pitch today. That’s just a matter of figuring out what they are doing and adjusting to it. But three games in, I feel like I’m off to a strong start.”
Boyd allowed one run on four hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Shawn Greene pitched the ninth for eight save of the season. He has yet to allow a run in eight innings.
Thursday’s series finale is again at 1:10 p.m. The Indians will start RHP Shane Bieber (0-0, 3.38) against the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 4.09). Sportstime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM will carry the game.