Gerrit Cole outdueled Shane Bieber on Saturday night in a hard fought pitching duel between two of the top starters in the game today, as the New York Yankees used a pair of solo homers in the fifth off of the Cleveland right-hander to defeat the Indians in a 2-1 final.
It was the pitching matchup most would have anticipated between Cole and Bieber, but the Tribe ace came up on the short side of the stat sheet after a pair of fifth inning solo homers tipped the scales in the favor of the Yankees.
Bieber had to battle his way out of a shaky first inning. Giancarlo Stanton singled with one out. Aaron Judge walked to put a pair on. Bieber calmed down, throwing six of the next nine pitches for strikes, setting down Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela on his first two strikeouts of the game.
Cole was locked in early. He struck out a pair in each of the first three innings, retiring the first seven in order before Roberto Perez doubled with one down in the third inning. He was stranded as Andres Gimenez struck out swinging before Amed Rosario grounded out to second.
Following his two strikeouts to end the scary first, Bieber mowed down the Yankees, striking out two more in the second and fourth while extending his batters retired streak to eleven in a row.
Cleveland took the first lead of the day in the bottom of the fourth against Cole. After Cesar Hernandez lined to left, Jose Ramirez jumped on a curveball and roped it to right for a triple. Eddie Rosario pushed the next pitch back into left-center for a base hit, scoring Ramirez with the first run of the game. Cole recovered to strike out the next two.
The Indians lead did not last long. Aaron Hicks stepped to the plate for his second at bat of the game against Bieber to lead off the fifth and tied the game with a solo shot to right. Bieber struck out the next two, but Rougned Odor’s big series against Cleveland continued as he drove a 3-1 pitch over the right-center wall to put New York up by a 2-1 count.
Cole retired the final eleven batters that he faced in a row to protect his newfound lead. Bieber had a tougher road, giving up a two-out single to Torres in the sixth before issuing two free passes in a scoreless seventh, but the game remained a one-run contest as it turned over to the bullpens.
Bryan Shaw nearly ran into trouble in the eighth. Judge doubled to left with one out and Urshela walked to put a pair on with two outs, but Hicks fouled out to third. Justin Wilson retired two of the three batters that he faced in the home half for the Yankees, but Jonathan Loaisiga stranded Perez at second after his walk and advance on wild pitch by getting A. Rosario to pop to short.
James Karinchak struck out the side in the ninth for Cleveland to keep it a one-run game, but the Tribe bats remained quiet in their last ditch efforts. With Aroldis Chapman unavailable after earning saves in the first two games of the series, Loaisiga remained on in relief to close out a four-out save. He needed four pitches to get Hernandez to ground to second and four more to get Ramirez to line to second. E. Rosario sent a fly the opposite way to left, but he was retired to send the Indians to a fourth straight defeat and third in a row to the Yankees.
The Yankees moved to 9-11 on the season, while the Indians dropped to 8-11.
Bieber (2-2, 2.48 ERA) took a tough loss despite a quality showing on the mound. He worked seven full innings on the night, allowing just two runs (both via solo fifth inning homer) on four hits with three walks and nine strikeouts while throwing a season-high 119 pitches. Although he was dealt defeat, he did match Randy Johnson’s string of 17 straight games with eight strikeouts or more, the longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.
Cole (3-1, 1.71 ERA) shut down the Tribe, limiting them to just three hits and one run over seven innings. He struck out eleven, despite 27 fouled off pitches and working behind 14 of the 24 batters that he faced.
Perez reached twice for the Indians with a double and a walk, while the rest of the team went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position while stranding three.
Hicks’ homer was his third of the season and gave him seven RBI. Odor’s was also his third, and his game-winning RBI was his eighth of the year.
The Indians will look to avoid the sweep in the finale of the four-game set on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field. Second-year right-hander Triston McKenzie will be the first to toe the rubber for the Tribe, while right-hander Jameson Taillon will counter for the Yankees.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)