Oscar Mercado, meanwhile, looked like anything but a rookie playing in just his 26th big-league game.
Mercado’s career-high four RBI led an Indians offense that collected 14 hits, including 10 off Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull (3-6, 3.27). Mercado reached base four straight times after grounding out in the first, and has totaled 30 hits and 21 runs since joining the club on May 14.
Cleveland (37-33) picked up its sixth shutout of the season and swept a series on the road for the first time since taking three games April 15-17 in Seattle. The Indians enter play on Monday a half-game behind Boston for the No. 2 wild-card spot in the American League and 10 games behind the Twins in the AL Central.
Bauer (5-6, 3.42) earned his first win since April 30 in Miami. He snapped a streak of five consecutive losing decisions over his last eight starts. It’s the first complete-game shutout of his career and his third complete game overall. The most recent Indians complete-game shutout was Shane Bieber’s 15-strikeout gem on May 19 against Baltimore.
“We had a chance to sweep our last three series, and while they were good series wins, we lost in the last day,” Bauer said. “It kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths.”
Bauer gave up four hits and struck out eight without surrendering a walk on 117 pitches. He allowed a leadoff triple to Tigers second baseman Harold Castro in the second, but stranded Castro there and went on to retire the next 11 Detroit batters.
“Any time you go out there and throw nine innings and don’t give up any runs you’re doing a lot of things right,” manager Terry Francona said. “Early in the game (Bauer) pitched around that leadoff triple. At the time it was a 1-0 game. From there we got him some runs and he really settled in.”
Francisco Lindor doubled in the third and scored on a Mercado’s RBI infield single that found the hole between Tigers third baseman Dawel Lugo and shortstop Gordon Beckham. Mercado moved into scoring position with his fourth steal, setting the stage for a two-run home run by Jason Kipnis that gave Cleveland a four-run advantage.
It was Kipnis’ third home run and his first since May 16. Kipnis entered Sunday’s game hitting .278 with runners on base and .286 with runners in scoring position and two out.
“I think you’re just seeing the hitter that I used to be and can be,” Kipnis siad. “It’s still in there. So I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Mercado added two more runs with a bases-loaded bloop single to right in the fourth and doubled home another in the sixth against ex-Indians reliever Austin Adams.
“I know it went kind of quietly last year when we acquired him, but I think our (front office) guys deserve a lot of credit, because the kid looks like he’s got a chance to be a pretty good player,” Francona said of Mercado. “It’s fun watching him.”
Cleveland broke through with a run in the first inning on back-to-back doubles with two out by Carlos Santana and Kipnis. Santana’s blast to the wall in center extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games.
The Indians head to Texas to open a four-game series at 7 p.m. Monday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. It will be Cleveland’s final visit to the park as the Rangers will move across the street to a new venue next season.
Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.00) is set to make his return from the 60-day injured list for the Indians. He last pitched on April 7 against the White Sox. Lance Lynn (7-4, 4.40) gets the start for Texas. The game will air on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.