There isn’t any player in baseball more entertaining than Trevor Bauer. That’s a fact. Every game he pitches, he finds a new way to be the most talked about player that night.
On Friday night in front of a hostile crowd in San Francisco, Bauer did something I don’t ever recall seeing an opposing player do. While heading back to his dugout, Bauer raised his hands to the guy, egging on the San Francisco crowd. Encouraging them to boo louder.
“They’re going to hate me anyway,” he said to the media following the game. “Might as well lean into it. I like when the crowd is into it. It makes the moment feel bigger and I perform better in those moments. It just feeds me.
“Fans wanted to boo me, so I wanted to turn the volume up. Don’t half [ass] it. Just give it to me.”
It wasn’t just the fans who loved it. Manager Dave Roberts was all for it.
“Let the kids play,” he said. “I think the gamesmanship, the fun, the banter and the back and forth. He dishes it out and takes it, it’s a lot of fun for the game.”
Bauer’s teammate Chris Taylor didn’t see Bauer do it live, but later saw it on a replay.
“It’s funny,” he said. “I like it a lot better when he’s on my team [as opposed to] when we’re playing against him.”
Bauer delivered one for the books to kick off the series. He gave the Dodgers 6 1⁄3 innings and allowed one run (unearned). He struck out a season-high 11 batters. Oh, and he did it on.... 126 (!!!) pitches. Yup, you read that right. 126 pitches. After the Dodgers had a bullpen game on Thursday, they needed Bauer to record as many outs as possible.
“I felt great overall,” he said. “Frustrated with myself. Couple things went against me. My pitch count ran up. It was important to go as many as I could. It was a pretty short conversation to go out there for the seventh.”
After Bauer exited the sixth inning, he was at 113 pitches. Most people assumed that would be it for him. No way he could go back out there, right? Well, prior to the game, Roberts said that Bauer could throw up to 120 pitches. So, he went back out there for the seventh.
“Just seeing how he feels,” Roberts said on the conversation with Bauer before he went back out there. “You got to trust a player because they’re all going to want to stay in the game. I didn’t think the stuff was compromised at all. I thought the pure stuff in the sixth inning was his best stuff all night.
“It was going to be a short leash. He said he felt good and I told him I’d give him a short leash.”
Bauer has lived up to expectations so far, both on and off the field. As he said when he closed out his postgame presser last night, “Reigning, defending, undisputed.”