Homers Back Bieber in Return to Cali; Indians 6, Angels 2

Shane Bieber provided the Indians with seven quality innings and home runs by Jason Kipnis and Yu Chang supplied the majority of the support as Cleveland opened its three-game series in Anaheim with a 6-2 win over the Angels on Monday night.

Bieber, a native of Laguna Hills, California, and a UC Santa Barbara alum, was once again masterful as he shut down the Halos. Making his American League leading 30th start of the season, he led the way with seven strong innings of one-run work, scattering five hits and no walks while striking out eight on the night. The Indians scored early with three runs over the first two frames, then added on with a big three-run blast later in the contest to earn another needed win for the team’s pursuits of a postseason berth.

Facing the first of three straight left-handers in their series with the Angels, the Indians took a first inning lead as Yasiel Puig continued his hotter hitting at the plate of late. Rookie 22-year-old southpaw Patrick Sandoval was on the bump for the Angels, but the unfamiliar face could not slow down the Indians early. Francisco Lindor led things off with a five-pitch walk and, two pitches later, Oscar Mercado singled to center. Sandoval struck out Carlos Santana for the first out, but Puig delivered the first big knock of the game, singling to right to score Lindor from second to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. Cleveland had a chance to add on more, but Jordan Luplow grounded into a double play with runners on the corners to end the frame.

Kipnis – Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Indians added more in the second. For the second straight inning, a leadoff walk set the table as Franmil Reyes drew a free pass. The next pitch went down the middle of the plate for Kipnis and he sent a deep drive over the wall in center to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.

Making his first Major League start in his home state, Bieber pitched a scoreless first, working around a one-out single by David Fletcher. Facing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to start the second, the veteran slugger took a pair of strikes looking before fouling off three straight. He won on the sixth pitch of the AB, driving career homer #655 over the wall in left-center to put the Angels on the board in the 3-1 game. Bieber got Kole Calhoun for the first out before giving up back-to-back singles to Andrelton Simmons and Luis Rengifo, but he struck out Anthony Bemboom and got Brian Goodwin to fly to center to strand a pair.

Sandoval and Bieber each pitched perfect thirds before the Tribe threatened in the fourth. Kipnis singled with one out to knock out the left-hander as Luke Bard entered in relief. Kipnis was picked off for the second out before Roberto Perez singled and Chang walked. Lindor could not deliver as he fouled out to first to leave two more on base.

Bieber struck out a pair for the second straight inning in the fourth and got three fly ball outs in the fifth around a one-out infield single by Bemboom before the Tribe doubled their tally with a big sixth. Greg Allen pinch-hit for Luplow and singled off of Bard before stealing second. Reyes struck out for the first out, bringing manager Brad Ausmus to the mound for Adalberto Mejia. He got Kipnis to fly to left for the second out and Ausmus played the matchup game again, going to Justin Anderson. He pitched into a mess, walking Perez in a long battle before Chang slugged his first Major League homer over the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center to put the Indians up by a 6-1 count.

Bieber pitched perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, ending the day with eight straight batters retired. Carlos Carrasco came on for work in the five-run game, but he fell behind 3-0 to Jared Walsh before the rookie drove his first big league home over the wall in center to make it a 6-2 game. He bounced back, striking out two around a single by Fletcher to conclude his inning of work.

Bieber – Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Tyler Clippard handled the ninth in a non-save situation, striking out Pujols before walking Calhoun. He got Simmons to ground to third before Rengifo popped to Lindor to end it.

The Indians moved to 84-61 and picked up a half game on the idle Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. Cleveland won consecutive games for the first time in September. The Angels are now 67-78 on the season.

Bieber’s gem moved him to 14-7 on the season while nudging his ERA down to 3.17. He worked seven full innings for the 14th time this season while pitching in the seventh inning for the 19th different start of the campaign. It marked the tenth straight quality start for the 24-year-old right-hander. It was a home game of sort for the Orange County native, as a large contingent of Bieber believers were in attendance in an area behind the Indians dugout. In a rare sight, he received a curtain call following his outing from his fan base.

“I’ve never seen that,” said Tribe manager Terry Francona following the 6-2 win. “It didn’t get in the way of his pitching, and it was kind of cool to see. I know how fond we are of him, but I thought it was a pretty cool moment.”

Sandoval was done in the fourth after three and one-third innings of work. He was charged with three runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts on 61 pitches. The bullpen gave up another three runs over the final five and two-thirds innings.

Chang drove in half of the Indians’ runs with his three-run blast in the sixth. Allen had two hits off of the bench for Luplow, scoring once. Kipnis drove in two runs with his 17th homer of the year.

Fletcher put up the only multi-hit game of the night for the Angels, recording a pair of singles. Pujols’ 22nd homer of the year was the 655th of his career, putting him five short of tying Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list. Mike Trout was out of the lineup with right foot pain.

Game two from the Big A is scheduled for a 10:15 PM ET start from Anaheim on Tuesday night. Rookie left-hander Jose Suarez (2-5, 6.45 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season and his 16th appearance overall in the middle game. He is in search of his first win since June 15. Right-handed rookie Zach Plesac (7-6, 3.98) will look for his first quality start in over a month.

Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

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