Bauer takes mound hoping to give Indians a 2-0 lead on Cubs
There is no bleeding to stop for Trevor Bauer.
The Indians lead the Chicago Cubs 1-0 in the World Series after Cleveland took a 6-0 victory in Game 1 Tuesday at Progressive Field, and Bauer just aims to hold serve in Game 2 on Wednesday.
Rain might be another story, as Bauer takes the lead leg of the Indians' playoffs-long race to hand the ball to a dominant bullpen.
Major League Baseball moved up the start time for Game 2 an hour to 7:08 p.m. ET because of heavy precipitation in the forecast later in the evening for Northeast Ohio.
Bauer isn't plotting to halt Mother Nature.
He also claims -- as he did before his last start -- the health of his right hand is no longer a worry.
Bauer said Tuesday, after his previous postseason start in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series ended in the first inning, his wounded finger has healed. That claim didn't hold water at Toronto. His hand uncontrollably gushed blood and ended the 25-year-old fireballer's start after 21 pitches and two-thirds of one inning.
"Going into Toronto, the doctors told me they were confident it would be OK. I was confident it would be fine," said Bauer, who survives with a snug grip on two- and four-seam fastballs perfected in extra sessions with Game 1 hero Corey Kluber. "It hadn't bled the two days before that at all. So I feel confident every time I take the mound. I wouldn't take the mound if I didn't feel confident I'd be able to pitch and help the team. So, yeah, I'm confident like I was back then too."
Bauer cut his hand repairing his drone, but was a workhorse in the regular season, averaging 110.4 pitches in 35 starts. Control can be fleeting for Bauer, whose eccentric personality is a plus in the clubhouse according to manager Terry Francona.
If his fastball is live -- and with just 99 pitches thrown total in the first two rounds of the playoffs, energy and stamina should not be hindrances -- Bauer can be a force. He had 168 strikeouts in the regular season.
The Cubs counter with their No. 1b starter, Jake Arrieta, after Jon Lester allowed three runs and took the loss Tuesday. Chicago looks to beat the odds against teams losing the first game of the World Series, who are 40-70 overall in the Fall Classic.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 with a record of 22-6 and 1.77 ERA. This season, he had 18 wins (3.10 ERA), but has not been the same dominating presence in the playoffs.
In two games, Arrieta is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. Opponents are hitting .273 against him compared to .194 in the regular season.
"It's why you play the whole season," Arrieta said. "To hopefully be in this position to be one of the last two teams standing with an opportunity to win a World Series for your organization, your city, for your team, friends and family. So it means a ton. You know, there's only two of 30 that even get these opportunities. Not many players -- there are some players that go their whole career without being able to get to the postseason. So we're all very fortunate."
Stacking a lineup already loaded with fastball-smashing lefties might be reason for Cubs manager Joe Maddon to carry extra confidence into Game 2.
"They're obviously very talented, but the Red Sox were very talented, and the Blue Jays are obviously very talented too," Bauer said. "At the end of the day, they're just hitters. They get outs nine out of 10 times, like all the rest of them. It comes down to executing pitches, executing a game plan."
The surprising return of Kyle Schwarber allows Maddon to back up National League MVP candidate Kris Bryant with a run of power bats -- first baseman Anthony Rizzo, left fielder Ben Zobrist, Schwarber and possibly Jason Heyward.
Maddon said it was not a given that Miguel Montero, a left-handed hitter and Arrieta's preferred backstop all season, would start Game 2 over rookie Willson Contreras, who is best equipped to slow the Cleveland running game.
Heyward's atrocious postseason landed him on the bench Tuesday for the second consecutive playoff game.
"Jason's been struggling at the plate -- that's it," Maddon said of starting Chris Coghlan, who entered Game 1 with a .063 career postseason batting average. "That doesn't mean it's going to look like this (Wednesday)."
Schwarber smacked a double in the fourth inning of Game 1 for his first hit of the entire season, proof positive the left-handed slugger hasn't lost his immense power rehabbing from torn knee ligaments since April. He walked in the seventh, laying off a pair of two-strike offerings from left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowed two home runs in his lone start against the Red Sox, and gave up 20 home runs in the regular season. Indians manager Terry Francona said they are banking on Bauer's wounded pinkie holding up, and Cleveland holding down Chicago's offense.
"If it doesn't work," Francona said, "I'm going to make the doctor come up here and talk to you (media). I don't think that finger's going to be the reason he wins or loses."
Josh Tomlin is scheduled to start Game 3 at Wrigley Field for the Indians against Kyle Hendricks, but the Indians have not announced a starter for Saturday's Game 4. John Lackey is scheduled to go in Game 4 for the Cubs.
Though Francona would not say it directly, the Indians are weighing giving the ball back to Kluber -- he threw 88 pitches in six-plus Tuesday -- on Saturday. That would definitely be the case if the Indians were in position to sweep the series. Francona is 9-0 all-time as a manager in the World Series.
"We've said who our first three starters are, but just to be fair to them, we need to wait until everybody pitches just because it's not just if one guy can handle and maybe come back early," Francona said. "Because once you do that, then the other guys pretty much have to, too, or you're really not helping yourself. So we've talked to all the starters. They understand how we feel about things. But we also need to wait and see because, as we noticed with drone attacks, that things can happen."