CLEVELAND, Ohio – A recording of John Adams beating his bass drum played in the background. The drag track that is East Ninth Street featured one motorbike roaring after another piercing the darkness.
The seats were empty, but a loud fan, from outside the Home Run porch door, screamed until his lungs burst.
Welcome to the 2020 Opening Night at Progressive Field. Welcome to Shane Bieber’s party.
Bieber opened the Indian season with a franchise record 14 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over the Royals. The last Indian pitcher to come close to those many strikeouts on Matchday 1 was Gary Bell, who struck out 12 in 10 1/3 innings against the Tigers on April 19, 1960. Bieber struck out 14 in six goalless innings. goal.
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Hall of Famer Randy Johnson is the last pitcher to hit 14 batters on opening day. The Big Unit did it for Seattle against the White Sox on March 31, 1996. Camilo Pascual holds the record with 15 for the Senators in 1960.
Opening night was 120 days late due to the coronavirus. Bieber (1-0, 0.00) was also scheduled to start this game on March 26 against Detroit. The layoff didn’t hurt him as he allowed four hits on 97 shots.
“There were a lot of new things for everyone today,” Bieber said. “No fans in the stands. I thought I was prepared for this after training against your own team.
“But it’s different when you have another player stage in the box that you potentially haven’t seen at all. There are no fans in the stands and they are pumping in the noise of the crowd. It’s a bit synthetic, but you get used to it and I fell into a nice little rhythm.
The Royals, ravaged by the coronavirus, started on left Danny Duffy. The Indians didn’t treat him well in his career, but Duffy made them appear for 4 1/3 innings. Still, Duffy is 0-7 in his last eight starts against the Indians.
As soon as Duffy left, the Indians took a 2-0 lead.
Duffy hit Jordan Luplow with a pitch to start the fifth. Domingo Santana fouled in the first, but Roberto Perez chose in the middle to send Luplow in the third. Scott Barlow relieved Duffy and Oscar Mercado greeted him with a single down the middle for a 1-0 lead as Perez placed third.
Cesar Hernandez doubled third place for his first official move since signing with the Indians in December. Perez scored for a 2-0 lead and it looked like a big end was just around the corner. That thought was reinforced when Barlow punched Jose Ramirez to charge the bases with one out, but the roster midfielder missed.
Francisco Lindor struck out and Carlos Santana hit in a force play.
“We didn’t hit the ball all over the ballpark,” said manager Terry Francona. “We stayed in the middle and kicked the ball the other way and were rewarded for that. I thought Roberto’s base run was huge. I don’t know how many wrestlers can go from first to third like that and he was doing it from the start. It really helped us.
It took a moment or two for Bieber to find his balance in the first run as he faced an adrenaline rush. When he did, he drove.
He started the match by hitting Whitt Merrifield, but Adalberto Mondesi rebounded in a strength play in the second. Wide receiver Roberto Perez sent off Mondesi trying to steal the second, but Jorge Soldier walked and Salvador Perez chose.
Bieber finished the round by removing Alex Gordon. From that point on he was locked up. Bieber, starting with Gordon’s strikeout, retired nine times in a row and 11 of 12. Ten of those strikeouts came on the strikeout.
“They put Shane to work in his first run and the fifth,” Francona said. “But for him, hitting all six with 97 shots is a good shot. I don’t know how many strikeouts he had, but there were a lot.
When told Bieber set a franchise record with 14 strikeouts on opening day, Francona said, “OK, that’s a bunch. “
He found trouble in the fifth when Nicky Lopez blooped a single in center field with one out. Bubba Starling pulled out, but Merrifield chose right to send Lopez to third place. Merrifield stole second place, but Bieber pulled Mondesi off to keep the game goalless.
Mondesi’s strikeout was Bieber’s 12th in five innings.
Bieber’s last round was his sixth and he knocked out Perez and Gordon. Perhaps the most impressive outing was Bieber’s ninth withdrawal from the game as it included a little help from Perez. Ryan McBroom hit to finish the fourth, but the field passed Perez. He sprinted after, making a sprawling stop and throwing off the ground to save the pullout.
Adam Cimber, Nick Wittgren and Brad Hand combined on the four-hitter as they held the Royals scoreless over the last three innings. Hand threw the ninth for the save.
RHP Mike Clevinger will face Kansas City RHP Big League debut Brady Singer on Saturday at 5:10 pm SportsTime Ohio and WTAM will wear the game.
New Indian masks for sale: Here’s where you can purchase Cleveland Indian-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB profits are donated to charity.
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