A win is a win, and tonight the Indians won, 3-1, over the Rays. That’s about all you want to know about this game, trust me.
Ok, maybe if you want to dig a little deeper, you might be interested to know that Shane Bieber once again showed ace-like stuff and a killer curveball that led to 10 strikeouts and just one earned run in 5.0 innings. Combined with his last start against the Orioles, Bieber has struck out 25 batters and allowed just one earned run in his last 14.0 innings.
He wasn’t nearly as efficient this time around as he was facing real baseball players and not whatever it is the Orioles trot out on the field every day, but he worked his way out of a few self-made jams, and struck out the side in the second. Pretty or not, he was damn good.
Bieber threw 111 total pitches tonight in his 5.0 innings of work, almost evenly split between his four-seamer (37 pitches), slider (35), and his curveball (33) with a dash of change-up (6) thrown in.
The curveball alone induced 13 swinging strikes and was only put into play once. The 33 curves tonight were the most Bieber has thrown all season, and it’s a huge leap coming from the two he threw in his season debut against the Twins. He worked it to perfection tonight, and with Mike Clevinger on the mend (but returning soon), along with Corey Kluber’s extended absence, the Indians need more starts out of Bieber like this.
Despite facing an uphill battle against Blake Snell — who happens to be lefty and also the reigning American League Cy Young winner — the Indians offense put together just enough walks, dribblers, and a big solo shot from Jordan Luplow to help out their own budding star pitcher. Luplow’s solo bomb in the fourth was the only real notable hit by the Tribe through the first seven innings; it wasn’t until Blake Snell was ultimately worn down and pulled after 104 pitches that things got going.
Before we get to that though, full credit to Eric Haase who drew a walk in Snell’s final at-bat to get him out of the game for good. The Indians poked and prodded their way to a bases loaded scenario against Jose Alvarado in the eighth — an effort which included a single from Francisco Lindor, a pair of walks, and a Roberto Pérez go-ahead dribbler to third that would have been out had a relatively easy play been made by Andrew Velazquez. It was by no means perfect, but it’s what the Indians needed more than anything.
They also needed their bullpen to come through and help out Bieber’s great evening, and they were nearly perfect. The only base runners allowed by the Tribe ‘pen were one by Adam Cimber and one by Brad Hand — but he quickly made up for that mistake. Other than that, AJ Cole continued his ascent into the next random reliever off the street to dominate in a Tribe uniform, and Hand struck out two of the four batters he faced to close out the whole dang thing.
Normally I would feel bad for the Rays, or any fanbase, for having to lose a game like this. But I can’t muster any sympathy for another team right now. The Indians needed this — as ugly as it was offensively, and as unearned as it might ultimately be. Anything that snaps the disgusting streak of games they have been on is a win in anybody’s book.
Now do it again tomorrow. But this time with dingers, please. So many dingers.