The Indians bullpen had been one of the surprising strong points thus far in 2019.
Staked with a 7-3 lead on Saturday night against a Braves team that probably was thinking more about warming up the bus, the demons of the 2018 Tribe pen reared its ugly head again.
The Braves scored five times in the ninth, ruining another good start for Trevor Bauer and the first game in the lineup for shortstop Francisco Lindor, as the Braves split the doubleheader with a comeback 8-7 win.
Bauer was worked by the Braves (more on that later) and the Indians pen which had not had a major meltdown in 2019 yet suffered their first, allowing six earned runs to give away what should have been an easy win.
The Indians will still have a shot to win the series on Sunday night baseball, but this one will sting as the team had a great chance to get to 13-7 on the year, as compared to 12-8.
Here’s a few takeaways from this setback.
1. A Frustrated Bauer
Trevor Bauer went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with 10 K’s, but the Braves hung in against him forcing him to throw 120 pitches, 76 of which were strikes.
They worked counts, and then seemed to foul off a ton of pitches, which didn’t go unnoticed by Bauer after the game.
“Didn’t seem like they wanted to hit tonight, seemed like they wanted to take pitches, foul pitches off, guess it worked out for them,” Bauer said.
It seemed like the Braves had Bauer scouted right, do whatever they could to rise his pitch count and get him out of the game to get to the pen.
If that was the plan, it worked just in time.
2. Cimber Crumbles
The Tribe sidewinder was not effective in allowing four earned Braves runs in the defeat, taking the loss.
Cimber was his own worst enemy, walking three batters, and while he allowed just one hit, it was a big one that allowed the Braves to get back to 7-5 when Ozzie Albies drove in two runs with a single.
He then walked Josh Donaldson before turning the ball over to Tyler Olson, who walked a batter, and then Cody Anderson, who gave up the game losing hit to Ronald Acuna Jr.
All in all, this was an outing that the pen had better forget quickly.
3. Lindor’s Debut
Lost in this mess was the debut for shortstop Francisco Lindor, who got a great ovation from those that stuck around for game two at Progressive Field.
The Tribe shortstop struckout in his first time to the plate, and on the night went 1-for-5 with a run scored.
Just having him back will make this lineup better, and the team did have a good first game back from the offense, scoring seven runs, granted all of them came in the first two innings.
Here’s hoping that he stays healthy and this lineup rounds into form a lot more than the hodgepodge it was the first three weeks of the season.