Shane Beiber finished tonight with three hits — one at the plate and two on the mound. Truly a two-way player, he is.
Unfortunately, those two hits from the mound don’t count for much besides giving the other team a free base. Poor Kolten Wong caught both of Beiber’s errant throws, one straight on the butt-tox and one on his thigh, close relative of the butt-tocks.
It was a couple of strange slips of command for Bieber, but overall he turned in another solid start for the Tribe, enough to earn his third win as a big leaguer. Since his somewhat rocky debut against the Minnesota Twins, he’s pitched 18.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs. His five strikeouts tonight were a career-low, however, so he’s clearly on the downturn and it’s time to just DFA him before things get out of hand.
Call it creating a narrative if you want, but boy does Bieber do a good job of keeping his composure. For the second start in a row, the strikezone was all over the place as he was squeezed on the outside edge frequently, and given a few low balls that were nowhere near a strike. I’m starting to get the feeling that Bieber is going to live and die by the type of umpire behind the plate based on ho well — and how often — he locates on the outside edge of the zone. Maybe he’s just so used to living on a thin edge like that, that he can easily shake off bad calls and move on? I don’t know, but it’s consistently impressive to watch. And goddamn are his eyebrows spectacular.
Bieber’s other contribution to the night, a one-out double in the fourth inning, was one of eight hits for the Tribe. Even when he’s at the plate he still puts up a great pitcher face. A true hurler, through and through.
When you realize you're gonna have to run 180 feet pic.twitter.com/bU7CdAyVMU— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) June 28, 2018
Edwin Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall opened the scoring for the Indians with back-to-back homers early on, and they never gave up that lead. Jose Ramirez had a rare off game, going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. Yes, that’s a bad day for the GOAT, especially considering he was 0-for-4 heading into the top of ninth before he slapped a 97 mile-per-hour pitch for his first and only hit of the game and stole a base for good measure.
Maybe the most pleasantly surprising at-bat came from Tyler Naquin. Much has been written about his inability to hit fastballs up in the zone (I may have contributed some digital ink to that), but by golly he did it tonight.
Just look at this little chart from Baseball Savant:
Coming into this series, Terry Francona was pretty adamant that he wasn’t going to let his relievers hit the ball. Well, because baseball is evil and NL rules are stupid, Neil Ramirez had to bat in the top of the eighth. Instead of just tossing a few underhand throws for strikes, the Cardinals reliever started off with a curveball that missed high and then two straight balls to give Ramirez a 3-0 count. He was taking all the way to a full count until he swung at a pitch up in the zone that, considering the strikezone tonight, might have been called a ball. He helped himself not have to run the bases, so maybe it was a win/win after all.
With tonight’s win, the Indians avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals and most importantly won’t have to deal with this outdated form of baseball until mid-August when they travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds. Until then, viva la designated hitter.