Shane Bieber gives the Baltimore Orioles nightmares. Don’t believe me? Ask Mandy Bell, beat reporter for the Cleveland Indians:
Oh, and let's not forget he didn't walk a batter in either outing.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) June 30, 2019
The Bieber Experience
After the pitching crashed and burned two days in a row, the team needed a boost and they got it in the form of Shane Bieber’s incredible outing. Bieber cruised through eight innings and didn’t really run into any adversity throughout the entire outing. The lone runner that reached scoring position, Rio Ruiz in the fifth after hitting a double, ultimately ended up not mattering. As noted by Mandy, Bieber didn’t give up a single free pass, so the three hits he gave up were the only base runners that reached on his watch. This was due in part to Bieber’s domination of the strike zone, which culminated in 11 strikeouts. Of his 112 pitches, 72 were strikes (64%). His fastball was working today, generating 8 swinging strikes and topping out at 95 mph. Overall, Bieber had 20 swinging strikes and just completely shut down the Baltimore offense all day long. I know that Bieber won’t be able to face the Orioles every outing, but if he can be even close to this effective against all other teams, he’s going to quickly be an ace on this team.
Oh, and he picked off a runner in the first inning. That was neat.
The offense is still sputtering
Unless your name is Oscar Mercado or Carlos Santana, chances are you struggled at the plate today. Which is understandable when you are facing pitching behemoth Gabriel Ynoa. Ynoa has not won a game this year, he has an ERA north of 6, and he only had 34 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. His WHIP is 1.544, his FIP is 6.45, and his ERA+ is 68. By any metric, he is not a good pitcher. But he sure looked like one today against the Cleveland Indians. The only hitters able to do anything meaningful against him were Oscar Mercado and Carlos Santana, the pair responsible for both runs of the game. In both the third and seventh inning, Oscar Mercado doubled (the first of which was a great hustle double) and was promptly brought home thanks to an RBI single by Carlos “All-Star” Santana. You would have expected the offense to be able to knock out a bad pitcher early in the game, but that was not the case today. Ynoa bobbed and weaved through 5.1 innings despite only notching 3 strikeouts and getting just 6 swinging strikes. But he kept his team in the game, and that’s most likely all manager Brandon Hyde could’ve hoped for. And it was almost enough.
Everything almost falls apart
The last time Brad Hand took the mound, he came into the game with a 6-3 lead against the Royals on June 25. That game ended with Hand failing to record an out and giving up five runs. Today, after a stellar start by Bieber, Tito handed the ball to Hand to finish the job in the ninth inning. And things looked to be back to normal for hand to start the inning after he struck out Pedro Severino. After that, Jonathan Villar blooped a single into shallow right field. One runner, no big deal. The second out came via a swinging strikeout of Renato Nunez. Things got dicey next when Trey Mancini singled past a diving Lindor and Chance Sisco walked to load the bases. With the winning run on base, LGFT Anthony Santander stepped to the plate. Santander, despite having a quiet Sunday up to this point, had already homered twice this weekend. Thankfully, Hand was able to finish the inning with a strikeout, earning him the save and getting the lone victory for the Tribe in the series. Brad Hand needed a lot of pitches to get through this outing, but it’s not like he gave up any hard hit balls. Both hits were soft bloops that just found the exact right spot where a fielder wasn’t. The walk was questionable too, courtesy of Joe West. But in the end, the Indians got back into the win column and that’s all that matters.
The Tribe has an off day tomorrow before they head into their final series before the All-Star break on Tuesday. They wrap up the first half of the season against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.