To say Shane Bieber was dealing in the Tribe’s 4-0 victory over the Blue Jays tonight would be a disservice to Biebers everywhere. The man was a walk shy of being perfect through six innings and missed a Maddux by two pitches. All in all: 10 strikeouts, one walk, one hit, and one incredible night for Bieber.
Bieber was able to keep the Blue Jays off balance with a mix of his fastball and heavy use of his slider, which he threw 28 time for nine strikes. No ball hit by the Blue Jays left the bat faster than 100 mph — not even a couple terrifying cracks from Vlad Guerrero Jr. He carried a no-hitter through six innings, and looked prime to rebound nicely from his 5.2-inning kerfuffle in Kansas City last week. And boy did he.
Tonight would end with Bieber completing the second complete game shutout of his career (that’s right, I said complete game shutout), and his first against a real baseball team not named the Baltimore Orioles.
All of this came with the additional annoyance of yet another bad replay review on a ball that sure looked like hit the nob of a bat, but review upheld it as a hit-by-pitch. If Lourdes Gurriel Jr. wasn’t really hit by Bieber in the seventh inning, he did a hell of a job selling it. After the ball either cracked off the nob of his bat or hit his wooden hand, Gurriel flinched in pain and had the trainer come out to poke it a bit. At the very least, the call on the field this time was HBP, so it wasn’t a reversal on a blatant missed call. They could make the case that the evidence wasn’t clear enough to reverse it, even though my biased eyes would disagree.
Absent the awful broadcast experience of YouTube, tonight’s game had a lot of the same trappings as Trevor Bauer’s outing Tuesday night. The Indians offense couldn’t hit a pitcher who used to be great (in Marcus Stroman’s case tonight, he’s still pretty great), and the Indians’ starter was dealing. Tonight, though, José Ramírez had a pair of hits, and Gregory Lomack Allen continued to make a name for himself with a 3-for-4 night and a run batted in. That is to say, the offense showed up.
This was Allen’s fourth start in the last five games, and he’s proving to Terry Francona and everyone else with eyeballs that he deserves more playing time. There’s a reason he’s one of the hottest trending players in baseball, even without getting consistent at-bats every night. He just hits, plain and simple. Oh, and he runs. Fast.
Allen’s speed was on display on a first-to-third run in the fifth inning, specifically. Kevin Plawecki hit a double to left Allen took off from first. With the score tied at 0-0 and the rest of the lineup looking nonexistent, third base coach Mike Saurbaugh gave Allen the go-ahead, despite it looking like a really close play. The Blue Jays overthrew their cutoff man and Allen slide home to narrowly avoid beating the tag. Without the errant throw from the outfield, Allen might have been out, but it was still a great send call by Saurbaugh. At this point in the game, it looked like no one else was competent enough to get him home from third, so why not give one of your fastest guys a shot?
The offense wouldn’t tack on anymore runs until the eighth, when Francisco Lindor doubled and stole third, leaving Oscar Mercado at the plate. The rookie delivered with a long sacrifice fly. 2-0.
By now, Bieber’s no-hit bit was done in by Eric Sogard, but he mowed down the bottom of the Blue Jays lineup in the bottom half of the eighth. In the ninth, Jordan Luplow hit a dribbler that scored José Ramírez from third, and Greg Allen (maybe you’ve heard of him) added another with a single.
Jake Bauers deserves some recognition in this recap as well because he was mired in a 1-for-19 slump heading into tonight. He got on base twice via a walk and a ninth-inning hit — and even ended up scoring the final run of the game. So good on you, Jake.
And good on the Indians for not failing their starting pitcher two nights in a row. Winning is fun.