Nine players took the field Friday night for the Cleveland Indians, but only one of them actually came to play. Unfortunately that lone ranger was Shane Bieber, who made the fatal mistake of allowing the Minnesota Twins to score a couple of runs. The Tribe lineup was only there to collect a paycheck — Friday is payday, after all — and clock a couple hours of physical activity to stay loose in the weeks before they take their chances in October.
The Indians’ 3-1 loss to the Twins extended their current losing streak to four games.
Bieber failed to hold Minnesota to negative runs, surrendering a two-run homer to Byron Buxton in the second inning on a hanging slider that had a .980 xBA and left the field of play at 111.5 mph. He didn’t seem to have a feel for his knuckle curve early in the game, walking two batters. But it came back with a vengeance in the fourth inning, becoming his punch out pitch on his final five strikeouts. With eight punch outs on the night, Bieber became the first pitcher in club history to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts of a season. He also became the first pitcher in MLB history to reach 100 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. Not a bad Friday night for Bieber.
He gave up a solo shot to Ryan Jeffers on another hanging slider in the eighth, but who really cares. Certainly not the Indians. The Twins could have agreed to let the Tribe start each inning with a runner on second and it would not have made a difference.
Cleveland ended Kenta Maeda’s no-hit bid in the first inning with a José Ramírez single, but their bargain bin lineup followed the same script from Maeda’s previous two starts against the Tribe.
I mean, this was Tyler Naquin’s first at-bat:
Brutal. But this is nothing new if you’ve been following the Indians at all this season. The team with the second-worst OPS in the American League was true to form against Maeda, who allowed four singles, two walks, and no runs over seven innings of work, striking out seven.
Ramírez hit a solo home run off Twins closer Taylor Rogers in the ninth inning to put the Tribe on the board. I believe it landed in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch section of the left field bleachers.
The carelessness on the basepaths also continued for the Tribe, as Francisco Lindor delivered a leadoff single in the sixth inning before getting picked off first on Maeda’s third straight throw over.
I don’t know what else there is to say at this point. There are two weeks left in the regular season before the Indians make their first round exit, and no help is on the way. What you see is what you get. I suggest you make peace with the Indians’ atrocious offense, if you haven’t already, and pray that Rob Manfred makes fundamental changes to the way games are scored.