CLEVELAND -- The Indians are preparing to embark on a stretch of 30 games in 30 days. At least they'll head into that stretch fresh off two wins and an off day after defeating the Houston Astros 3-1 at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon.
If the last two weeks have been any indication of what the future may hold, the Indians (66-63) will look to ride their starting pitching through that grueling stretch.
Indians starters hold a 1.71 ERA over their last 13 games, and Trevor Bauer's performance was the most recent in a stretch of great outings.
"We haven't been scoring a ton of runs and we've won a couple series in a row because of it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The hope is the pitching stays strong, we start scoring a few more runs and we stretch a couple of games out. We have our work cut out for us, but if we pitch like that we'll give ourselves a chance."
Bauer threw six shutout innings, striking out nine while allowing four hits, and three walks with a hit batsmen.
"I thought today he threw some of his best changeups," Francona said. "They started to have a little action on them. He's always had a good change up, but when he gets that downward action on it, that's good."
Bauer has struggled throughout most of the season in the first couple innings. Francona has mentioned he likes what he sees from Bauer in terms of getting stronger as the game goes on, but would like to see him start games off better. Bauer accomplished that on Sunday by establishing the fastball early.
"That was kind of the focus all day long," Bauer said. "It turned out well. I got away with a couple mistakes that helped out. The defense made some really nice plays that helped out, too. It's definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep it going."
The Indians' defense helping their pitchers out is an unfamiliar scenario this season, though it rang true on Sunday. Tyler Holt, getting the start in right field, made diving catches in the first and another in the sixth while Bauer and Roberto Perez combined for a strike-out, throw-out double play in the second inning.
"He played a really good right field," Francona said of Holt. "Everybody sees the dives, but the jumps to get to the point where he could dive was impressive. He's worked hard. That's the one position he's probably played the least, but his jumps are really good."
The Indians got on the board in the third inning with a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly that scored Michael Bourn. They tacked on another run the following inning when Mike Aviles doubled down the left-field line and scored on the next at-bat on a Lonnie Chisenhall single. The RBI was Chisenhall's first since August 7.
In the seventh, the Indians added one more run after a single, balk and a sacrifice bunt put a runner on third base for Jose Ramirez, who continued to make an impact in his first extended look with the club.
"He's starting to play with a little confidence," Francona said. "You can see that in his body language. He got a couple of hits today and he's pretty excited. That was the kid we saw last year when he got called up."
Cody Allen needed 29 pitches and a mound visit in the ninth to close things out, but still pitched a scoreless inning for his 17th save of the season.
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