Shane Bieber didn’t need to be this good.
With Francisco Lindor finding his May power, Detroit Tigers pitchers forgetting how to throw strikes, and Yonder Alonso grand slamming everyone home, Bieber could have been a typical rookie and still probably went home with a sizeable win.
He did no such thing.
No, instead he put on his bright red hat and did his best Corey Kluber impersonation, looking downright unhittable against the Tigers in his second-straight victory.
Watching Bieber locate his fastball for much of the night was simply art. It was enough for him to carry a no-hitter through two innings before giving up his first hit to James McCann. But even then, he just kept dealing.
I swear this at-bat looked prettier live, but Bieber beat Niko Goodrum like a good drum with two perfectly placed fastballs in the upper-outside edge, and a bunch of junk that he had no chance of hitting until he eventually struck out swinging.
The at-bat against Goodrum, like most of Bieber’s battles on the mound, looked fully orchestrated by a veteran, not just some 23-year-old non-prospect making the third start of his career.
Per Paul Hoynes, here’s a fun fact about Bieber:
Bieber is first Tribe pitcher since Louie Tiant to strikeout at least six batters in his first three big-league appearances. El Tiante did it in 1964.— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) June 23, 2018
Also per Paul Hoynes, is this completely random tweet with no discernible context which I am going to assume is also about Shane Bieber.
Bieber wasn’t what you would call electric tonight — which probably makes the comparison to Corey Kluber wrong, but whatever — but he was accurate enough to induce 21 called strikes and 18 swinging strikes. When Tigers batters did manage to make contact, they rarely hit it hard and they often hit it on the ground — when they weren’t busy striking out, Tigers batters grounded into five easy outs for Indians infielders.
I mean, someone talk me down from this ledge if they really want, but what Bieber showed tonight was impressive. For a guy making his third or 300th start, it was great stuff, and I just hope that Adam Plutko is really enjoying his time as a spot starter while he can because it might not last past Carlos Carrasco’s disabled list stint.
Offensively for the Indians, it was a night of finding strides against a struggling pitcher. Francisco Lindor hit his first home run in almost a week, as did Edwin Encarnacion. Yonder Alonso, who was already slapping singles and doubles coming into tonight but couldn’t find the long ball, hit his first home run since May 27.
My favorite offensive stat of the night involves the Detroit Tigers being scared absolutely shitless by Jose Ramirez. They walked him four times, two of which were hardly real attempts at doing anything but giving him a free base. His pitch chart is predictably laughable, even with the completely unhinged strike zone were wall subjected to tonight.
And it won’t show up in those cyber metrics spreadsheets that you nerds love so much, but Jose came around to score on two of those walks — Edwin’s homer and Yonder’s grand slam. That’s called being a good teammate and playing the game the right way, damnit. Or something.