It’s been a slow road to major-league success for Indians infielder-outfielder Jake Bauers, who showed up to Friday’s series opener against the Tigers batting a lackluster .209/.294/.396 in his first 63 games of the year. So, when he rounded out his first career cycle with a two-run, 405-foot homer off of Detroit’s Blaine Hardy in the eighth inning, he was all smiles.
Bauers collected his first hit in the second inning with a line drive double to right field, advancing Roberto Pérez and scoring Jason Kipnis to put the Indians on the board. In the fourth, he knocked a single off of the list and scooted around the bases to score on Leonys Martín’s subsequent three-run shot.
The most difficult hit, however, Bauers saved for the fifth inning. He worked a 1-2 count against right-hander Buck Farmer, then skied a ball to deep center field and sprinted over to third base to land a triple — his first of the year. The speedy 23-year-old didn’t wait nearly as long for his fourth and final hit of the night, plucking the first pitch he saw from the top of the strike zone and returning it to the right field bleachers to complete the cycle in the eighth.
Per MLB.com, he’s the first Indians player to complete the feat since Rajai Davis hit for the cycle in the summer of 2016. His incredible four-run output — more runs than he’s managed to scrape together in all but one of his 160 MLB games to date — helped boost Cleveland to a 13-4 finale and a 35-33 record overall.
Bobby Jenks was a key part of the 2005 world champion White Sox. By 2010, his effectiveness as a closer fell off and he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season. He’d pitch in only 19 games that year, suffer a back injury and would never pitch again.
In the year or so after that, we heard that Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence. And then we heard that his back surgery was botched, and his baseball career was over. Then, after years of silence, we learned last spring that Jenks won $5.1 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed his surgery.
We did not, however, know all the details until Bobby Jenks wrote about them at the Players’ Tribune this morning. This is must-click link stuff, folks.
Jenks talks about how a seemingly innocuous pitch to Jorge Posada in an early-season Red Sox-Yankees game in 2011 was the last pitch he’d ever throw. He talks about the presumably simple surgery that would supposedly get him back on the field. And then the scary complications in which he almost died due to leaking spinal fluid resulting from the botched surgery. Then, after using painkillers to deal with back pain, Jenks’ fell into drug addiction, all of which culminated in him finding himself half-naked and crazed in a car that didn’t belong to him with police and rescue workers surrounding him.
Jenks got clean but his wife left him. And then he mounted a multi-year lawsuit during which he learned that the reason his back surgery was screwed up was because the surgeon was performing two surgeries at one time, which is an apparently common practice called “concurrent surgery,” that sounds like it totally should NOT be a common practice.
Yet Jenks has survived. He’s been sober for over seven years and he seems to be in a good place. But boy did he have to go through something harrowing to get there. Definitely take the time to read it.