CLEVELAND, Ohio – The strikeouts continue for Shane Bieber. The same goes for Indians on the Detroit Tigers.
Bieber struck out 11 goals in seven innings on Saturday night as the Indians beat Detroit, 3-1, at Comerica Park. The Indians have beaten the Tigers 19 in a row since April 11, 2019. It’s their longest winning streak against a team in franchise history.
For the record, Indians and Tigers are founding members of the American League. They’ve been playing each other since 1901. The Tigers still hold the all-time seed, even though the Indians have gone 60-17 against them since 2016.
Bieber (4-0, 1.30) has 54 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings in his first five starts of the season. He’s averaging 14 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 54 strikeouts are the biggest in team history after the first five starts of the season. They are tied for third in the major leagues since 1906 behind Nolan Ryan at 59 and Randy Johnson at 55. Bieber is tied with Ryan and Pedro Martinez.
In seven innings, Bieber used every shot in his arsenal. He threw 26 curves, 25 fast four-stitch balls, 21 knives, 17 sliders and nine shifts. It launched between 95.6 mph and 81.3 mph, according to baseballsavant.com
“He has the ability to throw any pitch at any point in the count,” Indian manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got enough fastball to get it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this with a pitcher. It has a curve ball and a slider that has almost the same speed, they just have a different break.
Spencer Turnbull (2-1, 2.78) continued to have his problems with the Indians. They went 5-0 against him last season in seven games. In his first start against the Indians this year, Turnbull lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He increased his throwing count with four marches, three of which turned into runs.
Bieber recorded 10 of his 11 strikeouts in a 13-batting streak from the second inning to the fifth. The stretch also included his only walk of the match. He is 4-1 with a 0.83 ERA in his career against Detroit. Bieber has walked six batters this season.
“Sandy (Leon) and I fell into a nice little rhythm,” Bieber said. “I started varying my curved ball, throwing cursors and locating fastballs just to get the guys out of the outside of the plate. I just fell into a nice little rhythm in the middle of the sleeves.
Bieber said he didn’t know the Indians had been so successful against the Tigers.
“I had no idea it was like that,” Bieber said. “I saw a Tweet on Friday. I was just trying to continue. . I think we’ll go tomorrow and finish the job.
Nick Wittgren and Brad Hand finished the last two innings. Hand recorded his fifth save after giving JaCoby Jones an RBI brace with two strikeouts in the ninth.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the third over Jose Ramirez’s two-point double on the right. The inning was started by Turnbull, who walked Sandy Leon and Oscar Mercado, the eighth and ninth hitters, to start the inning. Cesar Hernandez loaded the basics with a bunt single and Ramirez delivered Leon and Mercado.
A big sleeve sat on a tee for the Indians. There were no withdrawals and the top of the order was batting. Turnbull, however, pulled Francisco Lindor out, pushed Carlos Santana to reload the bases and prompted Franmil Reyes to hot strike in a 6-4-3 double play.
The Indians made it 3-0 in the fifth and Ramirez also played a big part in that race. He worked Turnbull for a walk, stole second place and scored on Santana’s double down center left. It was Ramirez’s second steal of the game.
“I think running the basics is part of my game,” said Ramirez, via performer Agustin Rivero. “I still like to run the bases, to be aggressive, but at the same time to be smart.”
The Indians opened the three-game series with a 10-5 win over Detroit on Friday. They were fortunate enough to be part of another big offensive night on Saturday, but they went 3 for 14 with runners in goal position and left eight runners on base. Lindor went 0 for 5, blocking six runners.
In the eighth, they charged the bases with no one, but couldn’t score.
Ramirez, who hits well against the Tigers, has reached base in four straight appearances at home plate. He made a single and double in his first two at-bats and walked in his next two home plate appearances. He also had an error on third base.
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