Star pitchers square off as Indians host White Sox

MLB Baseball

The Cleveland Indians’ Shane Bieber continues to show why he remains one of the majors’ elite pitchers.

Meanwhile, Dylan Cease has more than held his own for the Chicago White Sox this season.

Each right-hander looks to build on his most recent strong outing when the visiting White Sox continue their four-game series against the Indians on Tuesday night.

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Bieber (5-3, 3.13 ERA) already has two more losses this season than he did in all of 2020, but the Cleveland ace carried a no-hitter in the seventh inning Thursday before allowing a homer to Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop.

That was Bieber’s only run and hit allowed, and he overcame four walks and struck out 12 while completing seven innings for the first time in six starts during the 5-2 road victory.

“I felt like he was on this trajectory,” manager Terry Francona said of Bieber, who leads the majors with 110 strikeouts.

“It was just nice. You never can guarantee that somebody’s not going to give up runs because things can happen in a game. But, to see him have the crispness to those pitches is really important,” Francona said.

Bieber has a 1.80 ERA while winning his two starts against the White Sox this season – both at Chicago.

Yet, White Sox stars Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu are batting a combined .327 (16-of-49) versus Bieber. Abreu has homered three times against him.

Cease (3-1, 2.98) is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in three career starts against the Indians, but this will be the first time he faces them in 2021.

Cease allowed five runs and five hits over 4 1/3 innings of a 7-0 loss to the New York Yankees on May 22, but bounced back by allowing just one run, on a solo homer, and three other hits, while striking out 10 in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Baltimore on May 27. He threw a career-high 111 pitches.

Cleveland’s Cesar Hernandez and Eddie Rosario are a combined 5-for-9 against Cease. Hernandez recorded his first two-homer game in the Indians’ 8-6, eight-inning loss in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader with Chicago.

Teammate Jose Ramirez is just 2-for-11 in the last four games, but his two-run homer was the difference in Cleveland’s 3-1 victory in the nightcap to earn a doubleheader split for the second straight day. The Indians last won consecutive home games on May 11-12.

That nightcap victory snapped Chicago’s five-game winning streak. They still hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central, but they aren’t taking anything for granted, especially after losing on the road for the fifth time in seven games Monday.

“We have a good team. But we can’t get too complacent,” infielder Yoan Moncada told the White Sox official website. “We have to keep working hard, keep doing our thing, because it’s a long season.”

Moncada is 8-for-16 with three RBIs over the last five games.

–Field Level Media

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