Cleveland — Trevor Bauer turned from pitcher to politician to prize fighter.
If the weather was going to finish him, Bauer was going down swinging.
Bauer pitched seven scoreless innings before a rain delay ended his night, and Jason Kipnis homered to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 6-2 win over the sliding and sloppy Chicago White Sox on Monday.
The Indians (38-33) have a three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers (36-37) in the AL Central. The teams play a three-game series in Cleveland this weekend.
Bauer (6-5) allowed just three hits, struck out eight and was in line to potentially pitch his first career shutout. However, after the game was halted in the seventh for 35 minutes, manager Terry Francona pulled the right-hander following the delay.
Not before Bauer pleaded his case.
“Carl Willis was lucky he didn’t come tell me,” Bauer said, referring to Cleveland’s pitching coach. “I told him any one but Tito and I was throwing fists.”
Bauer was joking, of course, but Francona liked how his right-hander fought to remain in the game.
“Boy, I give him credit, man,” Francona said. “Even during the rain delay he was politicking. It just doesn’t make sense. But I gotta tell you, if you’re going to get into a little bit of a push and shove, I like it that he wants to stay in. I respect the hell out of that. I just didn’t think it made sense. I don’t have any doubt he could have done it, too."
Roberto Perez drove in two runs off Dylan Covey (3-2) as Cleveland improved to 15-4 in its last 19 home games against Chicago.
The White Sox committed three errors – one by Covey – in the first three innings, lost their fifth straight and dropped a season-high 23 games under .500.
Matt Davidson homered in the ninth for Chicago.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria felt Covey deserved better.
“Believe it or not even though Dylan did have a few walks, he didn’t throw the ball as badly as the numbers might show,” he said. “We didn’t defend for him. A lot of sloppy play out there to be honest. We just didn’t catch the ball and pick him up when we could have and he still ground out five innings.”
Chicago’s hitters couldn’t get anything going against Bauer, who struck out 12 in a tough loss against the White Sox and Covey last week. Bauer was bidding to tie a club record held by two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber with his fifth consecutive game of at least 10 strikeouts.
Bauer got to eight, but was denied any more because of a line of storms off Lake Erie and Francona’s decision not to push him further. Bauer has thrown at least 100 pitches in all 16 starts this season.
The enigmatic starter is crediting his success to some new pitches and a “tunneling approach” in which he divides the plate into quadrants.
“The more I’m able to execute those spots, with given pitches, the more confusion there is in the hitters because they see the same look over and over, and the ball goes different ways at different speeds and what not,” he said.
Perez’s two-run, ground-rule double highlighted Cleveland’s three-run second inning, which was set up by Chicago second baseman Yoan Moncada’s fielding error.