CHICAGO There was not much difference in the numbers this season that batters posted the first time through the order against Trevor Bauer and the second time:a .671 OPS and a .675 OPS, to be exact.There was a difference for Kris Bryant, though: an .891 OPS with five homers in his first plate appearance against a starting pitcher, a .933 OPS with 11 homers in his second trip to the plate against a starter. For Anthony Rizzo, the difference was even more stark, as the Cubs’ first baseman had a .788 OPS with 12 extra-base hits in his first plate appearances against starters, and 1.082 OPS with 21 extra-base hits the second time around.Deciding whether or not to let Bauer face the Cubs’ best hitters a second time was a decision that should have had little to do with Bauer and everything to do with the elite hitters he was going to have to face hitters who are among the most dangerous in baseball all the time, but particularly when they’re getting their second look at a starting pitcher.MORE: Baseball’s longest World Series droughtsThey made us pay for a couple of mistakes, Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. Their two best hitters, two of the guys that are Bo Jackson Jersey going to be up for MVP of the league, made us pay for two mistakes over the plate.The mistakes were on back-to-back pitches, and cost Cleveland a chance to win the World Series at Wrigley Field in Game 5 on Sunday night. Bauer’s 91-mph fastball, middle-in to Bryant, wound up in the seats. His 93-mph fastball, at the top of the zone and over the middle to Rizzo, went off the ivy for a double, eventually turning into the go-ahead run as the Cubs forced a return trip to Cleveland with a 3-2 triumph.The mistake made by Cleveland was leaving Bauer in the game to play into the advantage of those two hitters. If Terry Francona didn’t want to use someone who’s normally a starter, like Danny Salazar or Ryan Merritt, against the meat of the Cubs’ lineup, that’s understandable. But the https://www.royalsedges.com/kansas-city-royals/melky-cabrera-jersey play then would have been to go to Bryan Shaw to start the fourth and go from there, giving a softer landing to another pitcher later on.MORE: Recap all of Game 5’s actionWith 18 outs to get for Cleveland’s first championship, Francona so aggre sive in his bullpen usage all October did not try to step on the Cubs’ throats by unleashing the full force of the Cleveland bullpen. Yes, Andrew Miller was limited by having pitched the past two games, but he was slated to be there to get the final three outs. Shaw and Allen combined to get nine in the sixth through the eighth innings.The question, after Bauer provided three excellent innings, getting through the lineup plus one batter, was how to get the remaining six outs. Cleveland tried to cover it with Bauer, and it was a mistake you could see happening before it ever came to pa s.I’m not swayed. I’d get Salazar up to face Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist. https://t.co/4iy6uDiIQA (((Je se Spector))) (@je sespector) October 31, 2016MORE: Must-see World Series imagesHe came out really good, Francona said of Bauer. I mean, really good. And the two pitches, back-to-back, Bryant and Rizzo jumped on fastballs that caught too much of the plate. They were down, but too much of the plate. They got some fastballs they could handle and they whacked them pretty good.Francona went away from the approach that has gotten Cleveland to this point, one win away from a title, by sticking with his starter too long. Bauer was right when he said, I had great command of all my pitches, and executed pitches really well. It doesn’t matter, and should not have factored into Cleveland’s approach to getting those last 18 outs.I Joakim Soria Jersey saw it and I hit it, Rizzo said when asked about the double, seemingly confused by a query about what was different the second time around. That’s because it comes naturally to him. Rizzo had seen the same pitch, at the same velocity, in his first at-bat. It was a little more outside, and he flied out to the opposite field. When the pitch came over the middle, he smashed it off the wall. It’s not really helpful for him to think about why that is he’s the one with the OPS that’s 294 points higher in his second plate appearance against pitchers, let him focus on the how part of it instead.FAGAN: Cleveland fueled by positive mental attitudeIt’s up to Cleveland’s brain trust to know the why part, and for the entirety of these playoffs, one of the masterstrokes of Francona’s management has been limiting opponents’ looks at his pitchers. In 13 postseason games, there have been only 10 times that a Cleveland pitcher went through the order two full times and half of those have been Corey Kluber.Bauer did it in Game 5. The final eight of the 18 batters he faced came in the three-run fourth inning. There were other pitchers available, but the thought of using them to mix up the Cubs’ best hitters did not pop up in the Cleveland dugout.Trevor was throwing the ball so good, Callaway said. He had all of his pitches working. So, we didn’t really consider that.Mistakes happen. They happened to Bauer on back-to-back pitches that wound up dooming Cleveland to a return home for Game 6. They happened to Francona to get drawn in by Bauer’s first three innings and not consider the aggre sive move that could have put his team on that flight back home as the new world champions.
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