Baseball / Sports

Zach Walter's walk-off homer lead Indians over Diamondbacks in Game 1 of a doubleheader

CLEVELAND -- Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer insisted no ill feelings remain between him and his former team.

Yet plenty of attitude and perhaps even some resentment was once shared between Bauer and the Arizona Diamondbacks -- enough to spark an off-season trade two years ago that landed Bauer, the third overall pick in the 201 draft, and veteran reliever Bryan Shaw in Cleveland.

That was the subtext when Bauer took the mound to start Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday at Progressive Field after Tuesday's night's game was postponed by rain.

Just in case there were any doubts as to how the ultra-competitive Bauer would handle the situation, the young right-hander went out and pitched the best game of his young career to help lead the Indians to a 3-2 victory.

Bauer ended up with a no-decision, but had a no-hit bid through five innings and limited the Diamondbacks to two runs over a career-best eight innings while striking out nine.

"That was two years ago," Bauer said of issues with his former club. "I've long since moved on from that. To me, it's just another team. Just nine more hitters to get out. That's it. There's no bad blood between me and them or anything like that. I moved on from it a long time ago. I just tried to pitch and get outs."

Indians manager Terry Francona said Bauer put any extra adrenaline to good use.

"I know there's some history there," Francona said of Bauer and the Diamondbacks. "I do think (Bauer) was a little extra amped up, but he used it in a way where he stayed under control. He didn't just go out and throw. He went out and pitched -- really well."

Of course, the clubs might still be playing the way the pitching staffs competed. Fortunately for the Indians, newcomer Zach Walters picked a clutch moment to hit his first career walk-off home run, a solo shot against reliever Randall Delgado that just snuck over the right field wall with one out in the ninth inning.

Walters joined the Indians organization only a week and a half ago when he was acquired at the trade deadline from the Washington Nationals for veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Part of the allure of acquiring the versatile Walters, according to Indians General Manger Chris Antonetti, was his power potential.

Originally sent to Triple-A Columbus, Walters was called up Sunday after right fielder David Murphy (oblique) and designated hitter Nick Swisher (knee) went on the disabled list with injuries.

Yet, while Walters' fourth career home run ended the game, it was Bauer's increasing maturity that helped the Tribe get to that point.

Unlike the right-hander's usual pattern in which he takes a few innings to settle in, Bauer had command from the get-go. He aggressively pounded the strike zone and buzzed through the Diamondbacks lineup nearly twice before his command briefly began to falter in the sixth inning.

Instead of letting it get to him, Bauer calmly limited the inning's damage to a run on two hits and a walk. After a leadoff walk, Xavier Paul broke up Bauer's no-hit bid when he sliced a clean, line-drive single down the right field line. A double play helped Bauer quickly get out of trouble, but a run scored on the play to put the Diamondbacks on the board first.

With one out in the seventh inning, the Diamondbacks got to Bauer again for a run when Mark Trumbo singled and scored on Aaron Hill's groundout to tie the score 2-2.

The Diamondbacks' Vidal Nuno -- the Indians' 48th-round pick in the 2009 draft who was eventually released -- matched Bauer out-for-out early against his former organization.

Nuno retired the first eight batters he faced, including five of the first six by strikeout. The Indians' first hit against the left-hander came with two outs in the third inning when rookie Tyler Holt singled to left field.

The Indians threatened in the seventh when Mike Aviles led off with a ground-rule double, as his ball dropped into left field then rolled under the large, rolled-up Progressive Field tarp. But a double play helped Nuno get out of the inning unharmed.

The Indians finally broke through against Nuno in the sixth inning, chasing him from the game with two runs in and two outs. The rookie Walters started the rally with a single to left. Two batters later, Jason Kipnis singled to right field and both runners moved up a base and into scoring position on a throwing error.

Then, just as he has done throughout the season, Michael Brantley delivered in the clutch, sending a shot under the glove of second baseman Aaron Hill for a two-run single to briefly put the Indians ahead 2-1.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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