The idea made sense. A red-hot Eric Hosmer was at the plate. The bases were empty with two outs. Bauer wanted to put a curveball in the dirt. If he executes the pitch and Hosmer swings, Bauer's got his seventh strikeout of the night and the Indians head into the bottom of the inning with the score still tied. Even if he executes and Hosmer lays off, Bauer wouldn't have minded the walk.
Bauer made a good pitch, but it wasn't in the dirt. It caught the very bottom of the strike zone, and Hosmer swung, but he didn't miss.
The 78-mph offering left the bat at 108 and exited the playing field in a hurry. A shell-shocked Bauer stood on the mound, staring toward the right-field seats where the ball landed in disbelief.
"I think the last time I gave up a home run on a curveball was last year," Bauer said.
Bauer remembers correctly. He's given up just two home runs on a curveball in his career, both coming in 2014. The pitch that had carried him into the ninth inning betrayed him at the worst possible moment.
"I had thrown quite a few good ones," Bauer said. "I think I hung one early in the game, but I threw it for a strike when I wanted to and bounced them when I wanted to. So it was a pitch I had confidence in at that point."
The homer spoiled an otherwise excellent outing from Bauer, coming off the heels of a pair of starts in which he struggled. Bauer threw the first complete game of his career, allowing two earned runs on five hits and a walk, striking out six.
"That was one of the better games we've seen from him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Talk about a change of emotion in one pitch."
The pitch prior to Hosmer's blast, Indians catcher Roberto Perez had gunned down speedster Lorenzo Cain at second base for the second out of the inning. Bauer was one out, one pitch away from handing it over to his offense with a tie score in the bottom of the ninth. But Hosmer hit the curve.
"That's freaking baseball, man," Bauer said.
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.