It's unclear if the talent on the Indians runs that deep, but they do seem to have protection when it comes to left-handed relievers. When Andrew Miller left Wednesday night's game with a tight left hamstring after throwing just two pitches in the seventh inning, fellow lefty Tyler Olson relieved and helped preserve a 4-1 win over the Cubs at Progressive Field.
Not only did Olson retire Anthony Rizzo to end the seventh despite inheriting Miller's 2-0 count, but he recorded the first two outs of the eighth after allowing a leadoff double to Wilson Contreras. The second out made an impression as he struck out Kyle Schwarber, the Ohio native who was born to haunt the Indians.
The Indians used a formula for the victory that they've leaned heavily on in April. They received good starting pitching from Trevor Bauer and power from a roster that entered the game hitting .218 as a team.
Bauer (2-2, 2.41) allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight, walked three and allowed three hits. Brandon Guyer, Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion hit home runs against left-hander Jon Lester (2-1, 3.29).
"I thought Trevor competed his rear end off," said manager Terry Francona, who said Miller will get an MRI on Thursday. "It looked like he was frustrated at times, but I thought he pitched really well."
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Rizzo's two-out single. Bauer walked Ian Happ and Albert Almora with one out. He struck out Javier Baez, but Rizzo sent a clean single into center to score Happ.
Lester, who came into the game with a 7-1 record against the Indians, had two out in the fifth when Guyer hit a 3-1 pitch off the left-field foul pole to make it 1-1. For Guyer, who entered hitting .125, it was his first homer of the season.
"Once we got tied, it was, 'OK, we've got life,'" said Francona.
Lindor started the sixth with a homer to right on a 0-1 pitch. It was his third home run and ninth RBI in the last 11 games.
Encarnacion made it 3-1 with two out in the sixth. He hit an 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in left field for his fourth homer of the season.
"Whoever said solo homers won't beat you is full of it," Lester told reporters after the game.
The Indians made it 4-1 in the eighth when Lindor scored from first on a sacrifice bunt by Jason Kipnis and a throwing error by Rizzo at first base. Rizzo's throw sailed into left center field as Lindor scored easily.
'Kip gets the bunt down and good things happen when you play the game right," said Francona.
The bullpen, after Miller left the game, slammed the door. Olson threw a scoreless inning, Nick Goody recorded the final out in the eighth and Cody Allen retired the Cubs in order in the ninth for his fifth save.
"It's awesome," said Lindor, when asked Olson replacing Miller. "It shows we're a team. There's not just 18 guys contributing. It shows everybody on the roster counts.
"Olson is huge for us. He's been doing a great job for us since last year. He's going to be an important part of the team."
Allen ranks third in team history with 127 career saves. Doug Jones is second at 129 and Bob Wickman is the franchise leader with 139.
What it means
The Indians improved to 7-3 at Progressive Field this season. They are 35-11 at home since the 2017 All-Star break, which is the best record in the big leagues over that stretch.
Bauer threw 111 pitches, 68 (61 percent) for strikes. Lester threw 107 pitches, 65 (61 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Cubs and Indians drew 15,712 to Progressive Field on Wednesday night. First pitch was at 7:10 p.m. with a temperature of 45 degrees.
Seattle arrives at Progressive Field for a four-game series starting Thursday night when Mike Clevinger (2-0, 1.75) faces the Mariners and lefty James Paxton (1-1, 5.61) at 6:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio will carry the game.
Clevinger, coming off a two-hit shutout against the Orioles, will face the Mariners for the first time. The Mariners are the only AL team Clevinger has yet to face.
Paxton started against the Indians on March 31 in the second game of the season. He allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 6-5 Tribe win.