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Shane Bieber & Co. contain hot Seattle offense

It’s all coming together

Cleveland Indians v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The west coast has been good to the Tribe so far in 2019. After taking game 1 of this three-game set with the Mariners, Shane Bieber came in and pitched another great game and gave the team a chance to win. The offense capitalized on some key opportunities in a couple of innings to come away with a 4-2 victory, putting them in position to sweep tomorrow.

Not quite a Bieber Fever. More a Bieber 24-hour cold.

Shane Bieber started the game on fire. He got the first 5 outs of the game with just 10 pitches, including a 3 pitch strikeout of Mallex Smith to start the game. But things started to go south with two outs in the second when Bieber suddenly couldn’t find the strike zone. He walked Tim Beckham on four straight pitches, uncorked a wild pitch to advance him to third, and then walked Ryon Healy. Bieber is not walking many this season (1.8 BB/9), so to see him suddenly lose the strike zone so completely was a bit alarming. Tom Murphy got the Mariners on the board with a single, but Dee Gordon grounded out to end the inning and limit the damage.

After the second inning, Bieber was able to silence the Seattle bats for the most part. He would have had clean innings in the third and fourth had his defense not made silly errors behind him (thanks Jose Ramirez and Mike Freeman), but Bieber was able to follow each error with a strikeout. The fifth inning had a chance to get out of hand with a Dee Gordon walk (Bieber’s third of the game) and a Mallex Smith single, but Bieber again was able to neutralize the threat with a Mitch Haniger fly out, a Dee Gordon caught stealing, and a Domingo Santana strikeout. This was the theme of the night for Shane Bieber. When the game stood on the precipice of disaster, he bore down and made the pitches he needed. He induced 12 swings and misses on the night, including 6 on his slider alone. Bieber currently holds the King of the Hill crown for the Tribe, and he may retain it for another week (although there’s a good argument that Trevor Bauer should get it instead).

The hits are a-comin’

It’s no secret that the Tribe offense has been dreadful this season. You wouldn’t know it from watching them on April 16, 2019. Every starter (including newcomer Mike Freeman) ended the night with a hit, and three starters (Leonys Martin, Jason Kipnis, and Kevin Plawecki) had multiple hits. The scoring got started in the fourth inning when Leonys Martin led off with a single out to center field. He was caught stealing second, which was made even more irritating when Jose Ramirez singled in the next at-bat. Jason Kipnis almost grounded into a double play, but Tim Beckham botched the transfer and Kip was safe at first. Enter Carlos “Lando” Santana, who doubled into the gap in right field. Kipnis, going on contact, motored his way home from first and tied the game. I give props to Kip on this one because I didn’t think he’d make it home, but he did with ease. HanRam stepped to the plate next and drove Carlos Santana in with a bloop into left field, giving Cleveland the lead.

A couple more runs came home for the Tribe in the seventh inning. Tyler Naquin led off with a single and advanced to second on a balk* by Roenis Elias. Actual baseball player Mike Freeman got his first hit/RBI of 2019 on a single to extend the Tribe’s lead. He was quickly replaced by pinch runner Max Moroff, who was able to score with ease on a double by Leonys Martin to deep center.

The bullpen continues to be (pretty) good

The bullpen was a huge question mark coming into the season, but they’ve held up fairly well to date. Tonight, the trio of Oliver Perez, Neil Ramirez, and Brad Hand combined for 3.0 innings. Oliver Perez got the two outs he was tasked with and it only took him 9 pitches (Mallex Smith put up a good at bat before popping up). Neil Ramirez struggled a bit in the eighth; he gave up a lead off walk to Domingo Santana followed by a home run to LGFT Jay Bruce. This would have cut the lead to 1 had other LGFT Edwin Encarnacion not grounded into a double play to clear the bases before Bruce came to the plate. Jay Bruce hasn’t looked good at the plate this year overall, but he leads his team in home runs with 8, which is impressive considering everyone on the Mariners is hitting dingers as of late. Brad Hand came in and, aside from a double to Tom Murphy, shut the door to preserve the win. All in all, a good night for the good guys.

Tid-sized Tribe bits

  • Jose Ramirez, despite getting just one hit, put some good swings on the ball tonight.
  • The final play of the game was a rocket to Jason Kipnis, who jumped and snagged the liner out from way above his head. Really nice to see Kip contributing on both offense and defense.
  • Greg Allen was put in as a defensive sub late in the game and made another great grab in right field.
  • The Indians have one more shot to end the Mariners’ home run streak, which now sits at 20 straight games.
  • If you’re wondering who Mike Freeman is, allow Bryan to explain:

The Indians, after getting swept by the Royals, are now in the unexpected position to sweep the Mariners. Baseball is weird that way. Carlos Carrasco and friends will try to make it happen tomorrow in day-ish baseball (well, day for me. #westcoast) at 6:40 PM ET. Tune in, won’t you?

*In case you forgot what the rules of a balk were, allow Reddit user /u/sgtexpendable to explain:

Balk Rules

1) You can’t just be up there and just doin’ a balk like that.

1a. A balk is when you

1b. Okay well listen. A balk is when you balk the

1c. Let me start over

1c-a. The pitcher is not allowed to do a motion to the, uh, batter, that prohibits the batter from doing, you know, just trying to hit the ball. You can’t do that.

1c-b. Once the pitcher is in the stretch, he can’t be over here and say to the runner, like, “I’m gonna get ya! I’m gonna tag you out! You better watch your butt!” and then just be like he didn’t even do that.

1c-b(1). Like, if you’re about to pitch and then don’t pitch, you have to still pitch. You cannot not pitch. Does that make any sense?

1c-b(2). You gotta be, throwing motion of the ball, and then, until you just throw it.

1c-b(2)-a. Okay, well, you can have the ball up here, like this, but then there’s the balk you gotta think about.

1c-b(2)-b. Fairuza Balk hasn’t been in any movies in forever. I hope she wasn’t typecast as that racist lady in American History X.

1c-b(2)-b(i). Oh wait, she was in The Waterboy too! That would be even worse.

1c-b(2)-b(ii). “get in mah bellah” -- Adam Water, “The Waterboy.” Haha, classic...

1c-b(3). Okay seriously though. A balk is when the pitcher makes a movement that, as determined by, when you do a move involving the baseball and field of

2) Do not do a balk please.