The Indians (27-23) ended an eight-game losing skid by beating up on the Tigers (21-28), something that the team has made an enjoyable habit out of over the last couple of years. Now 5-2 against the Tigers in 2020, the Indians have three more left to play against their rebuilding divisional foe over the weekend.
The Cleveland bats provided Bieber with an early run in the first before piling on later. Rookie right-hander Casey Mize, the Tigers’ top pitching prospect, got the first two batters of the game in uneventful fashion. Ramirez, celebrating his 28th birthday, got the party started as he homered to right on a 2-1 offering to give the Indians their first of many runs on the night. He would be integral in the next scoring opportunity for the Tribe a few innings later.
Bieber struck out the first two batters of the night and retired five in a row before the Tigers got a runner to first base on Jorge Bonifacio’s bloop single to right. Austin Romine struck out looking with Bieber’s fourth K of the first two innings.
Mize set the Tribe down in order in the second and third and Bieber pitched a perfect ten-pitch third before the Indians got back to work against Mize. Cesar Hernandez singled to open the inning. Ramirez worked the count full and fouled off the first payoff pitch before sending the next one over the wall in right for a two-run home run. His 13th of the season and second multi-homer game of the year gave the Indians a 3-0 lead. Carlos Santana followed with a walk before Franmil Reyes lined out to second for the first out. Tyler Naquin singled to right and Roberto Perez drew a walk to load the bases. Josh Naylor popped to short for the second out. Oscar Mercado grounded to third, but an error by Isaac Paredes allowed all runners to advance safely with Santana scoring to make it 4-0. Lindor, the ninth man to bat, drew a bases loaded walk on a fastball in to extend the lead to 5-0. Mize was lifted for reliever Nick Ramirez, who struck out Hernandez on three pitches as the Indians left the bags full.
Bieber walked Willi Castro to start the home half of the fourth before striking out the next three in order. Ramirez had a 1-2-3 fifth, while Bieber worked around a one-out single by Romine in the bottom of the inning. Ramirez continued to pitch well in the sixth, giving up only a one-out walk to Perez, while Bieber was perfect again in response.
The Indians broke the game all the way open in the top of the seventh against Jordan Zimmermann, making his second career relief appearance. Hernandez singled to left and moved to third with one out on a double by Ramirez. Santana walked to load the bases and Reyes jumped on the next pitch, singling to center to score a pair to give the Indians a 7-0 lead. A fielder’s choice force at second off of the bat of Naquin scored Santana with the eighth run of the day.
Bieber made it eight straight retired by setting down the Tigers in order after the stretch before the offense added more to complete a big night at the plate. Naylor singled off of Zimmermann before back-to-back strikeouts by Mercado and Lindor. Hernandez doubled to left to score Naylor and a single by Ramirez on the tenth pitch of the at bat drove home run number ten in the blowout. Rony Garcia got Santana to fly to right to stop the bleeding.
Bieber, with just two hits allowed through the first seven, came back out for the eighth, but the Tigers finally got to him. He struck out Romine before a double by Paredes. Daz Cameron struck out swinging for the second out on Bieber’s tenth strikeout of the night. Pinch-hitter Derek Hill drew an eight-pitch walk after Paredes moved to third on a wild pitch during the battle. Castro, the former Tribe farmhand, got a 2-1 cutter over the plate and belted it down the right field line for a three-run home run, an unfortunate blemish on Bieber’s otherwise crisp stat line for the night. Cam Hill came on for Bieber and got pinch-hitter Travis Demeritte to ground to short for the final out.
MAKING AN MVP CASE
Bieber continued to make his case not only for the American League’s Cy Young Award on Thursday, but also the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. He moved to 8-1 on the season, with his ERA climbing some to 1.74 after allowing three late runs. He worked seven and two-thirds innings, giving up four hits on the night, two of which came in his final inning of work. He struck out ten and walked a pair, leaving after a season-high 118 pitches tossed.
“[Alomar] gave me the option,” Bieber said about interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr.’s trip to the mound before the Castro homer. “He said, ‘If I let you go get this guy, you’re going to be up around 120 [pitches], so you better get him.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Obviously, it didn’t play out that way.
“We righted this ship today and that’s most important. We went out there and got the ‘W’ and it’s on to the next one now.”
The Indians introduced themselves rudely to the rookie Mize, a pitcher who they will likely see for many years to come. The 23-year-old right-hander got just eleven outs, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits in his three and two-thirds innings. He walked three and struck out one and was stung by the pair of homers hit by Ramirez. He is 0-2 on the year.
N. Ramirez provided manager Ron Gardenhire with two and one-third scoreless innings of relief and Garcia ended the day with an inning and one-third of the same, but Zimmermann was lit up for five runs on six hits in an inning and two-thirds.
BLOW OUT THE CANDLES
Ramirez’s big night at the plate included a 4-for-5 effort. He finished a triple short of the cycle, hitting a pair of home runs before doubling and singling later. He scored three runs and drove in four. He struck out the only time that he was retired and was lifted for a pinch-runner late in the onslaught.
Hernandez set the table in front of the birthday boy Ramirez with a good game of his own. He singled twice and doubled one, scoring three times and driving in one.
Santana scored twice, reaching safely two times via walk. Reyes drove home a pair with his lone hit of the night.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Chicago White Sox guaranteed their first trip to the postseason since 2008 with a 4-3 win on Thursday over the Minnesota Twins. Josh Donaldson, Twins third baseman, was tossed in the sixth inning after kicking dirt on home plate after finishing a trip around the bases courtesy of a home run. He had previously argued several times with plate umpire Dan Bellino throughout the game and that appeared to be the final straw.
Seattle, trailing Toronto for the final Wild Card spot in the American League, will move its upcoming series with the Padres to San Diego due to the air quality concerns in Seattle following the Pacific wildfires.
Tampa Bay has clinched a playoff spot, doing so with a pair of wins over Baltimore in a doubleheader. Toronto’s 10-7 loss to the New York Yankees shifted the Indians into the seventh spot in the AL playoff bracket.
The Indians and Tigers will pick up where they left off on Friday night in another 7:10 PM ET first pitch from Comerica Park. Detroit will send out Michael Fulmer (0-2, 9.27 ERA), who will be limited on a pitch count. Cleveland will turn to right-hander Zach Plesac (3-2, 2.20 ERA), who will look to get back into the win column after taking a loss his last time out.
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