Shane Bieber took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Tribe offense gave him some strong run support on Thursday afternoon as the Cleveland Indians wrapped up their series in Detroit with a 5-2 win over the Tigers.
The Indians (27-21) took three of four in the series with the Motor City Kitties to get keep pace in the American League Central Division. The victory, led by Bieber and his 12 strikeouts, moved the Indians to 7-3 on the year against the Tigers and came on the heels of a tough 1-0 loss on Wednesday that ended the club’s six-game winning streak over their Detroit neighbors. The win was also the 700th of Terry Francona’s managerial tenure in Cleveland.
“Tried to use kind of a north-south attack and work with Hedgey,” said Bieber after the game. “We were on the same page from pitch one, really, and I just kind of fell in a rhythm.
“We’re going to figure out a way to patch things together for a little bit and continue to win ball games,” Bieber added in regards to the injury issues that have hit the club in recent weeks. “Whether that’s with the starting rotation, the bullpen, who’s been solid the entire year, or putting more runs on the board with our lineup, our defense…I think we’ve got a number of ways to go out and win ball games.”
Bieber notched his 600th career K in the third inning with a punchout of Willi Castro to become the quickest pitcher to that milestone in franchise history and the third fastest to do so in Major League history. He needed 77 games to reach the mark, while Yu Darvish needed 74 games and Dwight Gooden 76.
The Indians supported Bieber with an early run of support, but the game remained within reach until the middle innings. Harold Ramirez, hitting cleanup, doubled home Jose Ramirez after his two-out single off of Matthew Boyd to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Bieber walked the second batter that he faced in each of the first two innings before retiring the next eleven in order with six of his dozen strikeouts of the day coming in that stretch. The Tribe bats posted a little base traffic in the third, fourth, and fifth against Boyd, but some familiar names got back on the attack against the southpaw in the sixth as the Indians broke the game open. J. Ramirez opened the inning with a double to left and H. Ramirez knocked him in on the next pitch with a single to center. Eddie Rosario took a pair of sliders before finding the third straight offering to his liking, blasting a two-run shot to right to double the Cleveland advantage to 4-0 on his fourth of the year while sending Boyd to the showers. The Indians added two more base runners on a single by Yu Chang and a two-out hit by pitch of Bradley Zimmer before Bryan Garcia worked his way out of the frame.
Bieber walked his fourth batter of the game in the sixth, but the Tigers remained hitless with little noise made whatsoever. The only ball out of the infield through that point of the contest was a two-out fly out by Victor Reyes in the second. Bieber returned to the mound in the seventh after Joe Jimenez stranded a pair in the top of the inning, but he missed on a 1-0 slider to Jonathan Schoop and the veteran infielder punished Bieber for the mistake, ending the no-hitter and shutout on his fourth homer of the season. Bieber struck out three around a two-out walk of Akil Baddoo to conclude his day.
Bryan Shaw stranded men on second and third in the eighth after a two-out walk by Harold Castro and a double to center by Jeimer Candelario, but with a chance to tie the game, Schoop popped out to second.
The Indians added an insurance run in the ninth against Derek Holland with another two-out hit from the middle of the order. H. Ramirez drew a two-out walk and scored from first on a double to left by E. Rosario. His third RBI of the game gave Cleveland a 5-1 lead.
James Karinchak came on for the ninth in a non-save situation. He struck out Niko Goodrum on three straight, but walked Eric Haase. He came back to K Baddoo swinging for the second out, but Reyes fouled off three straight heaters before punching a triple to right field to score Haase and make it a 5-2 game. Any suspense that may have been brewing went away quickly, however, as W. Castro popped out to send the Tribe back to Cleveland with a series win.
Bieber’s final line included seven innings of work, one run allowed, just the one hit via Schoop home run, and four walks. He threw 103 pitches on the afternoon, including 66 strikes and 24 swings and misses that helped build up his total of 12 strikeouts. He moved to 5-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.13.
Boyd lasted five-plus for Detroit, charged with four earned runs on six hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts on 102 pitches. He dropped to 2-6 on the year, despite a respectable 3.43 ERA for the campaign.
Prior to the game, the Indians recalled outfielder Bradley Zimmer from Triple-A Columbus and optioned Wednesday’s starter Triston McKenzie back to the same site. McKenzie made a spot start to replace injured starter Zach Plesac, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a right thumb fracture.
The Indians will return back home from their brief four-game road trip to start a quick seven-game homestand over the next six days, with the Toronto Blue Jays visiting this weekend before the Chicago White Sox come to town beginning Memorial Day. Eli Morgan is expected to make his Major League debut for the Tribe on Friday against veteran Hyun Jin Ryu in a 7:10 PM ET first pitch.
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