The magic number for Shane Bieber apparently is four.
The Cleveland Indians have won 26 consecutive games when providing Bieber, the American League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner, with at least four runs of support. And they’re 32-1 over Bieber’s career in that situation.
“Whatever happened, let alone 26 starts ago . . . you put it in the rearview mirror and you move on,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think Bieber is one of the very best pitchers in the game. I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Bieber and the Indians will try to extend that streak when they play host to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday afternoon. Cleveland has won the first two games of the three-game series.
Bieber (7-3, 2.96 ERA and major league-leading 122 strikeouts) threw six innings of one-run ball Tuesday in a 10-1 victory at St. Louis. He’s 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 20 innings over his past three starts.
“There’s an art to pitching with the lead,” Indians catcher Austin Hedges said. “It’s a tough thing to do sometimes. You get out there (and) you feel like you’ve got to just throw strikes the whole time. You can’t be walking guys. There’s a fine line between making sure we’re getting ahead (and) not giving them free bases, but still executing and going out there.”
Bieber, who is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts against Seattle, won in St. Louis despite getting cramps in both of his calves on a humid night.
“Just challenge guys,” Bieber said when asked about what it takes to battle through. “You’ve got to will it and just make it happen.”
The Indians did that Saturday, rallying from a late four-run deficit to defeat the Mariners 5-4 in 10 innings.
Rene Rivera hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth to tie the score, and Cleveland got the winning run on a throwing error in the 10th.
“There is no way to put a good vibe on the end of that ballgame,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That’s as sour a taste as you can get in your mouth when you give away a game like that.”
The Mariners are scheduled to start rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert (1-2, 4.98 ERA) in the series finale.
Gilbert, Seattle’s top pitching prospect, is coming off his first big-league victory. He defeated the host Los Angeles Angels last Sunday, allowing one run on two hits in five innings with four walks and seven strikeouts.
Gilbert made his major league debut against the Indians on May 13 in Seattle. He gave up four runs on five hits in four innings of a 4-2 loss and struck out five without walking a batter.
“It’s huge for the confidence,” Servais said of Gilbert’s victory. “There are days when they don’t quite have it and you gotta get ’em out a little early, but there are days that they do and you can feel them growing. Let ’em go. Let ’em grow. That’s what we’re trying to do with all of our young players, not just Logan.”
–Field Level Media