"It was a stupid pitch," Bauer said after Seattle evened the series at Safeco Field. "I shouldn't have thrown it. It was the wrong pitch at the wrong time. I should've thrown him a fastball in, but it happens."
On another night, that pitch would have been a footnote. Due to the eight-inning gem spun by Mariners starter Taijuan Walker, Bauer's mistake became magnified. Walker handcuffed the Tribe's offense, scattering two hits, striking out eight and taking advantage of a strike zone that favored high fastballs.
Walker entered the game with a bloated 7.33 ERA that did nothing to show how hard the right-hander can fire his fastball. He certainly found it against Cleveland and turned in his best outing of the season. As a result, Bauer was hung with a hard-luck loss after spinning a solid seven innings of his own.
"On a lot of nights," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "we're sitting here saying he gave us seven really good innings and we're patting him on the back. I don't want to lose sight of that."
The 24-year-old Bauer struck out 10 batters, registering his third double-digit effort of the season. By giving up two runs, the right-hander saw his streak of starts with no more than one run allowed end at three. Still, over his past four starts, Bauer has fashioned a tidy 1.53 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a .183 opponents' average.
Bauer (six hits and three walks allowed) gave up a pair of singles in the first inning, but the Mariners ran into two outs, including a caught stealing after the righty struck out slugger Nelson Cruz. Seattle loaded the bases behind a base hit and a pair of two-out walks in the fourth, but Bauer induced a flyout to Brad Miller to escape the jam unscathed.
"There was some bend," Francona said, "but not break."
After trading zeroes with Walker for five innings, Bauer finally flinched.
After striking out Kyle Seager to begin the sixth, Bauer gave up a groundball single to Cruz. The young righty then slipped into a 2-1 count and went with the ill-fated cutter to Smith, who deposited it over the wall in right-field for the decisive home run. Cleveland scratched one run across in the ninth inning, but the damage was done.
"Really, one pitch was the whole game," Indians first baseman Brandon Moss said. "It [stinks], but that's how some games go. There's nothing you can do about that one."
Bauer (4-2) was also forced to try to shrug off the tough loss.
"They hit one ball hard," he said. "Seven innings. One hard-hit ball. Ten strikeouts. What are you going to do? It's my job to go out there and give the team a chance to win. While I feel like I did a good job of that tonight -- I think in most cases if you go seven innings and give up two runs, you'll win -- it's a loss.
"And we've got plenty of those already on our record."