CLEVELAND (AP) — Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius.
One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back.
Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York’s other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series.
Bauer struck out Judge three times, twice getting the MVP candidate looking.
Bauer allowed just two hits in 6 2/3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball’s best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter.
Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat in frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save.
Judge’s verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York’s clubhouse.
“He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well,” he said. “You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow.”
New York’s now got to face Kluber, an 18-game winner during the regular season. He’ll start Game 2 on Friday against CC Sabathia.
Bruce connected for a two-run homer in the fourth off Sonny Gray and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth as the Indians began a journey to try and end the majors’ longest Series title drought.
Eyebrows were raised when Francona picked Bauer instead of Kluber, and the eccentric right-hander, perhaps best known for slicing a pinkie open while repairing a drone during last year’s postseason and bleeding all over the mound in Toronto, delivered a performance that started October just right for the Indians.
“The mindset was to go out there like a closer in the first inning and put up a scoreless inning,” Bauer said. “And then if I was still in the game, do it again in the second inning and the third and on until I was taken out of the game.”