Of all the reasons for Shane Bieber to have an off night, command isn’t the first thing that usually comes to mind. Bad hair day, sure. Lack of movement on his off-speed pitches, I can see it. But command? Not my Biebs.
Coming into tonight, Bieber’s 4.8 percent walk rate was the 13th lowest among starters with at least 60 innings pitched. That’s ahead of a whole bunch of quality pitchers and just a stones throw from Corey Kluber’s glistening 3.4 percent walk rate. Not walking anybody is all he’s done through his career, from Low-A all the way to the majors. But not tonight.
Tonight, Bieber walked a season-high three batters (pause for fainting) with five strikeouts and three earned runs over 4.1 innings. It wasn’t like the Reds were grinding out long at-bats, either. Bieber just couldn’t find the zone to the tune of 38 of his 90 pitches missing altogether. What hits he did allow weren’t exactly hammered — for the most part — but one too many doubles led to a slippery first inning before he rode the big red bull for another 3.1 innings.
I don’t mean to be so negative on Bieber, though. Maybe this is just karma for how many recaps of his I’ve had and done nothing but heap praise on him. He’s allowed to have a stinker once in a while and he had one tonight, it just a weird way for him to blow it, so it’s an interesting talking point.
Luckily, offense factors into the game of baseball, and the Indians have a dang good one.
It took them a while to show up, granted, but when they did, it was enough to wrestle away sole possession of The Ohio Cup from the ‘Nati
Lights Reds. I mean, they weren’t great tonight, but their five hits were enough to plate four runs, including Melky Cabrera’s go-ahead, two-run shot in the sixth. And despite his first ever failed stolen base attempt, Greg Allen went 2-for-4 on the night to extend his hitting streak to five games. Who needs walks when you can do that, right*?
*Greg Allen needs walks. Desperately.
Just in case you thought this game went on without a hitch after the Indians squeezed out a one-run lead, allow me to introduce you to Brad Hand and Brandon Guyer, the most wanted men in the Midwest. Not wanted for their skill displayed in this game, but for something I’m sure. Hand was all over the place in the ninth inning, and so was Guyer, but in totally different ways.
It was put best on Twitter:
Guyer tracked that ball as if he was running through an endless swarm of hornets.— Kevin Dean (@kvnbsbl) August 16, 2018
The best thing to come of this series (besides the wins... and the runs... and the sweep... and The Ohio Cup trophy...) was Jose Ramirez being unanimously named the Ohio Cup’s Most Outstanding Player, which is a very real thing. He’s the first player to do ever win the award unanimously, and I don’t think it’s going to be last hardware he takes home this season, not by a longshot.
The GOAT was hitless tonight, but racked up six hits, two home runs, and five runs batted in his the first two games of the sweep. A monumental effort for a monumental man.