Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer watches from the dugout during the ninth inning against the Reds on Tuesday in Cleveland. The Cincinnati Reds won 7-4.
CLEVELAND — The Indians got another dominant effort from All-Star right-hander Trevor Bauer and another brutal one from their bullpen Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Guess who won out?
Bauer came through with another ace-like effort and Cleveland’s relief corps promptly laid waste to it, as the Reds rallied for a whopping seven runs in the ninth inning to turn back the Indians 7-4.
The Indians have lost four straight following a five-game winning streak, and this one certainly ranks among the worst defeats of the season.
With Bauer at 111 pitches through eight innings, manager Terry Francona turned to closer Cody Allen in a non-save situation that should have made for an easy outing.
But it went awry quickly for Allen, who allowed three runs and left the bases loaded with two outs for right-hander Dan Otero to face the dangerous Joey Votto.
Only it wasn’t supposed to be Otero.
According to Francona, he told pitching coach Carl Willis he wanted to employ “O.P.,” as in left-hander Oliver Perez. Willis heard “O.T.” and made the call to the bullpen.
Otero wound up allowing a double to the left-handed-hitting Votto that cleared the bases and won the game for Cincinnati.
It was a bizarre and costly miscommunication.
“That one lands squarely on me, there’s no getting around it. I gotta be responsible for that,” Francona said. “When I saw O.T. coming through the gate — and again, it’s not that I don’t think he can pitch — it’s just not the guy I was expecting. I know Carl’s beating himself up right now, but that one lands on me.”
Bauer, named an All-Star for the first time in his career, shut out the Reds on three hits and four walks, recording his eighth double-digit strikeout game (12) of the season and 17th of his career.
He allowed one baserunner over the first four innings and no hits until a one-out, line-drive single to center from Jesse Winker in the fifth.
After watching Cincinnati’s aggressive approach Monday, Bauer had a game plan for Reds hitters.
“Breaking balls and fastballs can offset their aggressiveness a little bit,” he said. “When teams are aggressive like that, there’s ways to beat it. I have enough weapons in my arsenal that I can change things up a little bit and do that.”
A strong case can be made that Bauer has pitched better than Corey Kluber, the two-time and reigning Cy Young award winner. Bauer leads the majors in innings pitched (1291⁄3) and ranks fourth with 168 strikeouts and sixth with a 2.30 ERA.
The Indians didn’t do much offensively, managing six hits for the game and scoring all of their runs in the first two innings off Reds right-hander Sal Romano, who entered the night owning a 5.40 ERA over 18 starts.
The Indians had two runs after sending their first three hitters to the plate as All-Stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez hit solo shots.
They scored on a fielding error and Lindor’s groundout in the second, then produced only three more hits the rest of the way — one in each of the final three innings.
Still, it should have been enough. Allen, who was charged with six earned runs, ensured it was not.
Allen hit the first batter of the inning, Scooter Gennett, with an 0-2 pitch, then allowed a base hit before retiring the next two hitters.
Pinch hitter Eugenio Suarez blooped a single into right field to score one, with another pinch hitter, Adam Duvall, driving in two more on a double to left-center.
Allen still had the chance to lock up the win after intentionally walking Scott Schebler, but he walked Dilson Herrera on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases and was removed by Francona. Herrera entered the night without an at-bat in his first start of the season.
“It’s tough as a pitcher when you’re going through that because there’s not really anything you can go to,” Bauer said of Allen. “You try to get a better rhythm and that doesn’t work. You try to take more times between pitches and that doesn’t work. So you try to reset yourself mentally and your head’s spinning. When it’s going bad like that, it’s going bad. You have to hope it comes back before it costs you.”
“It’s tough,” Allen said. “Trevor pitched his tail off. He deserved to win that game. I didn’t do my job and took that away from him. Hitting Gennett there with two strikes on him put the whole thing in motion. Tonight was one of those nights I flat-out got beat.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.
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