Trevor Bauer was pulled by manager Terry Francona after seven hitless innings and 117 pitches, and watched from the dugout as Toronto’s Freddy Galvis broke up Cleveland’s bid for a combined no-hitter with a leadoff single in the ninth inning of the Indians’ 4-1 win Thursday night.
Bauer was attempting to throw Cleveland’s first no-hitter in 38 years — on the 25th anniversary of Progressive Field’s opening — but was taken out as his pitch count increased.
Jon Edwards got two outs in the eighth before closer Brad Hand worked out of a bases-loaded jam. Hand, however, gave up a hard single to center by Galvis. Moments later, Alen Hansen followed with Toronto’s second hit and the Blue Jays scored before Hand struck out two for his third save.
Bauer was six outs away from completing his no-hitter, when Francona removed him as a precautionary measure. The right-hander may have been able to go farther — he threw a career-high 127 pitches last season — but on a chilly night and with so much season left, Francona played it cautiously and replaced Bauer.
The enigmatic right-hander, best known for his quirky personality and unorthodox training methods, may disagree with his manager’s decision but only has himself to blame for throwing too many pitches earlier in the game against Toronto’s weak lineup.
The odd developments prevented Bauer from ending Cleveland’s no-hit drought, which dates to May 15, 1981, when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Blue Jays.
Bauer’s performance was anything but pristine. He walked six — including two in the third when he also hit a batter — and was never dominant against a Blue Jays team that has come close to being no-hit several times this season.
On opening day, Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann was perfect against the Blue Jays until giving up an infield single with two outs in the seventh. Baltimore’s David Hess was pulled with a no-hitter intact after 6 1/3 innings Monday at Toronto.
Before his pitch count got too high, Bauer was backed by some terrific fielding, highlighted by first baseman Carlos Santana’s diving stop to rob Socrates Brito of a possible hit to end the fifth inning. In the sixth, right fielder Tyler Naquin ran down Rowdy Tellez’s sinking liner toward the line.
The Indians have had numerous close calls over the years since Barker’s gem. Despite having several Cy Young winners and All-Stars, none of Cleveland’s pitchers have been able to make history and now Bauer has a near miss.
It was his second strong outing this season. He held Minnesota to one hit over seven innings on Saturday in his first start of the season.
Early on, it appeared Bauer might not get through three innings. He lost his command in third, when he threw 31 pitches on loaded the bases on a walk to Galvis, hitting Hanson on the foot and walking Brandon Drury walked. Bauer regrouped by striking out Brito and Randal Grichuk before retiring Tellez on a fly to center.
The Indians gave Bauer all the support, scoring two runs in the fourth and in the seventh.
Blue Jays: 1B Justin Smoak was pulled from the original lineup because of a sore neck.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus on Friday. He hopes to return during a road trip next week. The two-time All-Star strained his right calf late in spring training. Kipnis took grounders before Thursday’s game.
The four-game series continues Friday with Blue Jays RHP Trent Thornton facing Indians RHP Shane Bieber. Thornton struck out eight over five innings in his major league debut on March 31 at Detroit. Bieber makes his first start this season. He went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA as a rookie in 2018.