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Shane Bieber and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad curveball

Just the one curveball, but it was very bad

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Gaze upon it and weep — the worst pitch placement you’ve ever seen.

That was the sixth-inning curveball that Alex Verdugo took 447 feet (at 108 mph) to take the Red Sox from an 0-2 deficit to a 3-2 lead. An insurance run would be added in a busy ninth inning to make the final score 4-2, but they obviously didn’t need it. The real dagger came from the bat of Verdugo.

It’s a shame, too, because the rest of Bieber’s night was an effective outing, even if it wasn’t his most electric display on the mound. He continued the recent trend of throwing more sliders than fastballs with 43 slidey boys to 30 four-seamers, perhaps building a case that he is a “pitch to contact” guy now. The average exit velocity on his slider was a mere 92.1 mph too, compared to 100.2 mph on his four-seamer and 97.8 mph on his curveball. So maybe he’s onto something.

All it takes is one hit — preceded by a double and a single to put two men on — to really ruin a night, though.

Terry Francona also made the decision to bring Bieber out to pitch in the seventh inning, which worked out flawlessly against all odds. Bieber got out of the inning with three straight outs — a strikeout and two ground outs — and no damage done. One has to wonder how long Bieber would have actually remained in the game if he gave up a hit or something to the first batter, but luckily we don’t have to think too hard about it because it worked.

Trevor Stephen was the first reliever to take over for Bieber and he put himself in a hole quickly, with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. From there, though, he worked three straight outs, finishing off the inning with a dramatic strikeout that made Progressive Field rock. It sounded almost as loud as when the entire stadium is screaming the SpongeBob theme song every time Oscar Gonzalez is up to bat. Almost.

Speaking of Gonzalez, the Guards’ stalwart young outfielder pinch-hit to lead off the bottom of the seventh and made the most of it with a quick single. Watching Gonzalez adjust to the adjustments (something we’ve also seen from fellow rookie Steven Kwan) has been fun. Tonight he only saw one four-seamer in his two at-bats, and it was a wasted pitch high trying to get him to chase. It was all sinkers and sliders otherwise and he didn’t look completely overmatched. There are better measuring sticks for his adjustments than Jake Diekman, but it’s a start, for sure.

Another exciting game from Gonzalez was one of very few offensive highlights for the Guardians tonight, who finished with seven hits as a team and struck out six times. Amed Rosario finished with the only extra-base hit, a 106.2 mph triple in the third inning that scored Kwan and briefly gave the Guardians a glimmer of hope. José Ramíez added to that glimmer — as he often does — with a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-0. You know the deal from there. It didn’t go well, they lost.

Cleveland will lace up tomorrow looking to avoid a sweep and hopefully head into their five-game series against the Twins riding some good vibes.