Bieber K's 9, 'pen yields walk-off blast

April 28th, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Indians' bullpen had been a key cog in the team’s three-game win streak leading into Saturday. But it couldn’t hang on through the Tribe’s first extra-inning game of the season.

Entering the third game of the series in Houston, Indians relievers had allowed just one run over their previous seven innings. And after a quality outing by Shane Bieber, the bullpen cruised through the next three innings before Adam Cimber gave up a walk-off home run to Tony Kemp -- the first batter he faced -- in the bottom of the 10th that lifted the Astros to a 4-3 victory at Minute Maid Park.

“Yeah. It’s never fun,” Cimber said of entering in the high-leverage situation. “But somebody’s got to do it. That’s a good team over there and you’ve just got to keep thinking, ‘Tomorrow’s another day.’”

Clippard a part of strong relief trio

After missing the first month of the season due to a right pectoral strain, Tyler Clippard made his Indians debut, entering in the eighth inning with two outs, a runner on first and the game tied at 3. The 34-year-old struck out Carlos Correa to escape the frame, before retiring the side in the ninth.

Prior to Clippard, Dan Otero and Tyler Olson were responsible for a scoreless 1 2/3 innings after Bieber’s six-inning outing.

“I thought Otero was terrific,” manager Terry Francona said. “Olson got [Michael Brantley out] and Clippard went an inning and a third. It was good. We were in a close game and we went to those other guys. I thought that was good and they came through. That’s really good for us.”

Bieber bounces back

After getting knocked out of the game in the third inning in his last start, Bieber bounced back on Saturday in his first appearance against the Astros, allowing three runs on three hits with nine strikeouts (tied for his season high). The majority of the damage came on a two-run homer by Correa in the sixth.

“I thought he battled like crazy,” Francona said. “You know, he fell behind early a lot, but he kind of crawled back into the count with some offspeed pitches. You know, I’ve said a lot of times where I think he pitches kind of beyond his years; I thought today was one of those days, where that’s a really good lineup. They didn’t go out of the strike zone, and he ended up competing like crazy, giving us a chance to win.”

Bieber is known for his accuracy, having averaged 1.8 walks per nine innings in 2018, but walked a career-high four batters in Houston. The 23-year-old said that the free passes were mostly a product of not wanting to give in to such a tough lineup.

“Just having a better gameplan with these guys and knowing their gameplan and what they want to get, and if they get it, they’re probably going to take advantage of it,” Bieber said. “Just try not to give in too much in certain counts. I think that led to some walks tonight, yeah.”

Bieber’s perfect record on the road was saved when his offense fought its way back into the game in the top of the seventh, as Francisco Lindor delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly and Mike Freeman knotted the score up at 3 with an RBI single in the next at-bat. It was Freeman’s second RBI of the season and first since his 2019 debut on April 16.

“Because guys come up, and it’s human nature that you press a little bit,” Francona said of Freeman. “Just told him, ‘Just be who you are,’ because he can hit. He’s a good hitter.”

Bieber remains 9-0 through his first 14 career starts away from Progressive Field.

“I thought it was a good bounce-back outing from my last one,” Bieber said. “I thought I kept them off-balance pretty well throughout the whole game. Three hits in six innings. One of them was just a big one. It sucks when the game comes down to that, but that’s the game it is. You just have to deal with it and just be better the next time.”