Shane Bieber stands alone.
Prior to tonight, he was tied with Randy Johnson with 17 straight games with at least eight strikeouts. Once he eclipsed his eighth strikeout to lead off the fourth inning tonight, Bieber officially made it 18 and has his next of hopefully many records he’s going to set in his MLB career.
The record-setting game came, honestly, in maybe his “worst” start of the season. Granted, for almost any other pitcher who starts their last name with a capital letter, 11 strikeouts and three earned runs over six innings would be a phenomenal piece of pitching. Probably the highlight of their year. For Cleveland’s ace, it required some guts to work out of a jam, something he hasn’t had to do much at all this year.
Bieber allowed a lead-off double to start the third inning, followed by a Tim Anderson single and stolen base. He struck out Adam Eaton looking, gave up a hit to Yoán Moncada, then settled down to get the last two batters out. Working out of the taxing third inning required the use of two cutters — one to lead off the Adam Eaton at-bat, and another to strike out Yermín Mercedes and maintain Cleveland’s slim lead.
To be fair, a lot of the runners were not completely Shane’s fault. Sure, he could have limited the contact, but also his defense was not great behind him at times. Amed Rosario took a bad route to a ball early and the infield just a mess overall. Even Roberto Pérez made a poor throw at one point. Not enough to warrant errors in the box score, but enough to help put runners in scoring position that Shane had to snuff out.
The important thing here is that Bieber worked out of it, regardless of the circumstances. Because that’s what aces do.
Coming into the outing, Bieber threw his cutter just three times; he doubled that with six tonight. All but two (the one to Eaton and a ball to Luis Robert) were either painted right on the edge of the zone or dipped out enough to cause a swinging strike.
Overall, Bieber leaned on his four-seam fastball 38 times, his knuckle curve 27 times, his slider 26 times, and his changeup just three times. He finished the night with 39 called strikes or whiffs on his 100 pitches and finished with another dominating outing to give Cleveland a 5-3 win over the White Sox.
He didn’t do it alone, of course. After watching Bieber give up a second-inning run on a Luis Robert double, the offense rebounded with four runs of their own. A rare occurrence of response runs for the good guys this season. José Ramírez came up clutch with the bases loaded and one out, scorching a 107.2 mph groundball past the infielders to score Andrés Giménez and Cesar Hernandez. Jordan Luplow would score from third on a Franmil Reyes groundout before Eddie Rosario singled home a run of his own.
Cleveland’s only other run was a solo shot by Ramírez in the eighth inning to give them a little bit of breathing room in what was, at the time, a 4-3 ballgame.
The bullpen trio of Bryan Shaw, James Karinchak, and Emmanuel Clase executed almost flawlessly. Shaw looked unhittable, Karinchak struck out two, and Clase was squeezed by the ump but eventually worked out of a lead-off baserunner to close out the game.
Five of Cleveland’s 12 victories have been saved by Clase, who has yet to allow a run this season.
- Cesar Hernandez was pulled from the game in the bottom of the seventh for unknown reasons. The broadcast replayed his bunt attempt in the previous half-inning, though, and he appeared to take a ball off his finger. It may be related to that. Never bunt, kids.
- Despite his defensive goof early on, Amed Rosario hit a bloop single and gave himself a nice little two-game hitting streak.
- In calling James Karinchak’s two-strikeout inning, Matt Underwood dropped this line: “Just like his last name, the inning started with a K and it ended with a K.” I don’t know if that’s new or what but he seemed ready to fire that one off as soon as Karinchak made the final strikeout, so he was clearly prepared. Well played, Mr. Underwood. Well played.
Roberto Pérez and James Karinchak appeared to mix up their signs or something in the eighth inning and had a lengthy chat about it on the mound. Whatever it was, they were laughing about it going back to the dugout and Pérez covered his mouth and said something to Terry Francona in the dugout, who also laughed about it. I am desperate to know what it was.
Triston McKenzie will face Lane Lynn at 4:05 p.m. ET as Cleveland looks to take the three-game series.