Cleveland improved to 2-13 this season when scoring three runs or fewer with a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs, backed by a pair of dingers and a decent start from Shane Bieber.
Cleveland lived and died by the long ball, tying the score in the fourth inning thanks to a José Ramírez solo homer before pulling ahead in the fifth with a two-run shot courtesy of Cesar Hernandez. That was pretty much all the lineup could muster against Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay, who notched six strikeouts and scattered five hits across across six innings. He relied almost exclusively on his slider and sinker, the former of which finished the night with a 48% CSW%.
Shane Bieber labored through 6.2 solid innings of work. Even a 1-2-3 first inning for Bieber started with a bang after Joc Pederson lined a 111.5 mph screamer right at him. The Cubs were aggressive early in at-bats and it paid off in the second inning. Anthony Rizzo turned a first-pitch fastball into a leadoff double off the wall in left field before Willson Contreras shot a first-pitch slider through the middle of the infield for an RBI single. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead and could have made it worse after loading the bases with no outs, but Bieber managed to escape further damage.
Chicago had runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings but weren’t able to convert either scoring opportunity into runs. Then, in what I can only assume was one of the lowest moments of his major league career, Bieber surrendered a solo shot to soft-hitting Eric Sogard in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie. The Cubs were patient with his breaking pitches and all over his four-seam fastball, which only induced one swing-and-a-miss. Bieber finished the night with eight strikeouts, but gave up nine hits, three walks, and two earned runs.
The sixth inning should have been his last, but for some reason Terry Francona sent him back out to the mound in the seventh despite having already thrown 101 pitches (and with a fresh bullpen operating on two full days of rest). Bieber flirted with danger, allowing a leadoff single to Joc Pederson before turning two on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. He exited after giving up a two-out single to Matt Duffy and recording a season-high 121 pitches.
James Karinchak relieved Bieber for the final out of the seventh inning, retiring Anthony Rizzo on a flyout to strand Duffy, who had advanced to second on an error by Josh Naylor. He pitched a scoreless eighth, giving way to Emmanuel Clase in the ninth. Clase, following Bieber’s example, also flirted with danger, putting runners on first and second with one out. But he was able to get Duffy to ground into a game-ending double play to close it out.