CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer didn’t get the victory, but he won over plenty of teammates and fans Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Continuing to progress into the projected frontline starter the Indians hoped he’d be when they traded for the right-hander prior to last season, Bauer offered up a quality start in a 7-6 win over the Rockies.
Bauer, who allowed two runs on four hits while striking out eight over six innings, was deprived of the win thanks to Colorado’s seventh-inning uprising against the bullpen. But if he continues to pitch like he did, the victories will come.
“I thought (Bauer) was very good,” said second baseman Mike Aviles, who hit a three-run home run and drove in the winning run with a one-out single in the eighth inning. “He threw four or five pitches, threw a lot of strikes. He pounded the zone and when he needed to later in the game he really went after them.
“He understood that he had the lead and kept going after them. You can look at some of their swings, he definitely looked like he had their number today.”
It appeared as though the Indians had the Rockies’ number, with Cleveland taking a 6-2 lead on Lonnie Chisenhall’s two-run homer in the sixth. But the Rockies fought back to tie it with four runs off relievers Scott Atchison and Josh Outman in the seventh.
After Atchison allowed a solo homer and consecutive singles, the left-hander Outman surrendered a tying three-run homer to Charlie Blackmon on his first pitch.
That took the win out of the hands of Bauer, who surrendered just one hit over his final three innings of work after allowing two runs in the third. His effort was more impressive considering he has been battling an illness and took the mound under the weather.
“The team won, so that’s really all that matters,” said Bauer, who is 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts for the Indians. “I was able to contribute to it, give them six innings and keep them in the game, especially when I didn’t feel my best. I’ll take that every time.”
Bauer was especially effective against Colorado’s top two hitters, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, who went a combined 0-for-6. Gonzalez struck out three times and Tulowitzki twice.
“I thought he pitched in, used both sides of the plate, and as he got into the game, he found his breaking ball,” manager Terry Francona said. “He competed. He gave it everything he had.
“He’s not going to back off. He’ll compete and he’s got the stuff to do it.”
The Indians got the majority of their offense from Aviles and Chisenhall.
Aviles drove in four runs during a 3-for-4 performance, while Chisenhall continued to thrive at the plate, going 2-for-3 with his third homer and three RBIs.
Chisenhall, who made the team as a bench player out of spring training, has forced his way into the lineup on a consistent basis by batting .369 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 43 games.
He traditionally struggles against left-handed pitching, but has handled it well in a small sample this year, going 9-for-16.
“He’s just doing everything better,” Francona said. “He’s just playing the game really well. That’s quite an accomplishment on his part.”
It was a sacrifice bunt from Chisenhall that moved Jason Kipnis to second base, followed by Aviles delivering the winning hit.
Right-hander Cody Allen retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.