Shane Bieber threw his third complete game of the season as the Cleveland Indians completed their three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in a 6-2 final on Sunday afternoon.
Bieber received some early run support but got a big jolt in the middle innings as the Indians pulled away from the Angels. The second-year starter scattered five hits over nine innings of work and avoided unnecessary problems by issuing no free passes. Three Indians long balls powered the offense in a ten-hit effort as the team improved to 4-2 during their current nine-game homestand.
Cleveland jumped out to its early lead in the bottom of the first after Bieber retired the side in order in the top of the frame. Francisco Lindor lined out to left to open the Indians’ offensive efforts against Jaime Barria, but Oscar Mercado put a tally on the scoreboard with a solo homer on a 1-1 pitch to straightaway center to put Cleveland up, 1-0, on his ninth tater of the year. One out later, Yasiel Puig doubled to left and stole third, but Jose Ramirez could not get him in as he struck out looking.
Bieber got out of the second with a double play and Barria retired the side in order. Bieber set down the Halos in succession in the third before the Tribe added another solo run as the lineup flipped over. After a swinging strikeout by Jordan Luplow, Lindor worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2 before driving a slider 424 feet to center for his 20th homer of the season, doubling the Cleveland lead to 2-0.
Los Angeles got on the board in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit in half. Brian Goodwin doubled to center to start the inning and moved to third on a one-out grounder to short by Shohei Ohtani. Albert Pujols drove in another run in his long and productive career with a single to right to make it 2-1.
The Indians responded in the bottom of the fourth to get the run right back. With one down in the inning, Jason Kipnis hit the third home run of the day for the Tribe, a solo shot to right-center for his eleventh of the campaign, making it a 3-1 game. The Indians ran Barria with two outs after Luplow doubled and Lindor walked. The two moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch by new pitcher Luke Bard (recalled prior to the game from Triple-A Salt Lake City), but Mercado left them there on the next pitch when he grounded out to short.
Bieber faced the minimum again in the fifth in an eleven-pitch inning before the Tribe bats got back to work. Bard was drilled on the right biceps and had to come out of the game after giving up a first pitch leadoff single to Carlos Santana before Angels manager Brad Ausmus had to replace his injured hurler with JC Ramirez. He retired Puig on a fly to center before Ramirez got on board with a ground rule double to right that put two in scoring position. After a strikeout, Kipnis delivered again with a two-run single to right that doubled the Indians advantage to four runs at 5-1. Kipnis swiped second before Ramirez got Roberto Perez to ground to third.
Bieber allowed his fourth hit of the game with two outs in the sixth when Mike Trout doubled, but Ohtani could not get him in as he grounded to second. After retiring Pujols on a grounder to third to open the seventh, Kole Calhoun exited stage right with a solo shot to make it a 5-2 game before Bieber got the next two.
Bieber made it eight straight retired with perfect showings in the eighth and ninth to secure his third complete game of the season. In between, the Indians added an insurance run against Hansel Robles in the bottom of the eighth as Kipnis drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a one-out double by Luplow before a sacrifice fly by Lindor for his second RBI of the day.
Cleveland (66-45) kept pace with the first place Minnesota Twins, which blanked the Kansas City Royals by a 3-0 tally. Los Angeles (56-57) dropped back below the .500 mark with its fourth straight loss while now residing in fourth place in the AL West.
Bieber needed just 107 pitches to complete his 27 outs on the day. He had the ground ball working for much of the game, retiring 13 batters (and 14 of his outs in total) via worm burner. He allowed just two runs on five hits, walking none while striking out eight. He leads all of baseball in complete games (3) and shutouts (2) this year.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because there is obviously a lot of work to be done, but I’ve strung a couple of good outings together,” Bieber shared after the game. “It’s a lot of fun to be out there playing and giving these guys a chance to win. I know we’re going to put up runs and we’re going to have some fun doing it.”
Kipnis paced the Tribe offense with a pair of hits and three runs batted in on his fourth inning solo homer and his two-run single in the fifth. Santana and Luplow each had two-hit games, while Lindor went 1-for-3 with a solo homer and a sacrifice fly to give him two RBI on the day. It was a rough day at plate for Franmil Reyes, who went 0-for-4 out of the six-hole with four strikeouts to earn himself a golden sombrero. He also needed some new lumber after breaking his bat over his right leg after striking out for the third of four times.
Barria racked up some pitches in three and two-thirds innings of work. He allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts, but was hurt the most by three long balls. He threw 89 pitches, with 47 crossing for strikes, as he dropped to 4-5 on the season.
The Angels received some bad news on Sunday regarding Saturday’s starter Felix Pena, who left after injuring his right knee while covering first base during his outing. He tore his right ACL and will undergo surgery after swelling comes down and will miss the rest of the season.
The Indians will welcome the Texas Rangers to town as the team completes an American League West-heavy homestand against the third visiting team from that division. Cleveland will host Texas for a pair of night games (both 7:10 PM ET starts) before an afternoon affair on Wednesday afternoon (1:10 PM ET).
Rookie right-hander Aaron Civale (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus for a spot start for the Indians, replacing the injured Danny Salazar. He will make the second start of his big league career and his first since firing six shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers. Left-handed All-Star Mike Minor (9-6, 3.21) will make his first start in August and his second of the season against Cleveland (after throwing eight innings of one-run baseball on June 20). He is looking to bounce back from a rough July that saw him go 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in five starts.
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