Bieber earns W after 'pen fends off Yanks

July 14th, 2018

CLEVELAND -- After rookie right-hander Shane Bieber allowed three runs to the Yankees in the fifth inning on Friday night at Progressive Field, Indians fans grew wary as All-Star slugger stepped to the plate looking to give New York its first lead of the night.
With a runner on second, Judge sent a hanging slider 370 feet to center field, where it was tracked down by to quiet the collective gasp of the sellout crowd. The putout ended Bieber's 25-pitch inning and shut the door on New York's biggest scoring threat of the night, helping the Tribe secure a 6-5 win.
"I was holding my breath a little bit," Bieber said. "That was all barrel. He just got under it, fortunately. I hung a pitch up there and made a mistake, and fortunately got away with it. He could have done some real damage there."
Bieber (5-1) retired the next seven before ending his night in the eighth, matching a career high with seven-plus innings (last done on June 22, against the Tigers) and picking up the win. He also struck out six, allowing five hits and walking two. hung on for his 19th save, despite giving up a homer to to lead off the ninth.
The 24-year-old Bieber cruised through the first four innings, giving up only a single to through the first 13 batters he faced. The Yankees (61-32) sent up seven batters in the fifth, and the first three reached before Bieber recorded an out. Greg Greg Bird doubled to start the frame, followed by a walk to Andujar and an RBI double by . Andujar scored on Bieber's wild pitch, and Walker came around to score on a sacrifice fly by .
"[Bieber] was tough -- he was able to throw his breaking ball behind in the count, which he hasn't done a ton of this year," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "That was effective for him. I thought his fastball was sneaky and he was able to command it, for the most part. I liked the way the guys battled, because he was in a pretty good rhythm there."
Indians manager Terry Francona praised Bieber's ability to escape the jam in the fifth and recover to finish strong, showing the finesse seen by coaches throughout the Minor Leagues.
"To his credit, he reeled it back in and got 'em out," Francona said. "But I think the kid has a ton of poise along with being a really good pitcher."

Bieber was pulled after giving up a leadoff double to in the eighth. Wade advanced to third after a passed ball and made it a 6-4 game after scoring on Gardner's RBI groundout.
"The guy goes into the eighth giving us a chance to win the ballgame," said catcher , who went 1-for-4 with an RBI double. "It's one of those things that we've seen with his outings, where even when he gets into a little bit of trouble, he's still able to compose himself and get through it. That's not a lineup to lose your focus, lose your composure. He just kept attacking hitters."

After Gardner's groundout in the eighth, Francona opted to bring in right-hander to face Judge, a righty. Judge was hit by a 96.2-mph fastball that ran up and in, putting a runner on for . As Judge went to steal second, Ramirez struck out Hicks on a 3-2 slider down in the zone, allowing Gomes to throw Judge out. Though Judge was initially ruled safe by second-base umpire Jerry Meals, the call was overturned after a 28-second review.
Given the fact that Stanton loomed on deck and then led off the ninth with his 23rd home run, the play proved especially important.
"That was huge right there," Neil Ramirez said. "That was a big-time momentum shift for us. I come in, threw -- I thought -- a couple good sliders to Judge. I'm not trying to hit him right there. I'm trying to go up and in. So to have him get on base, it's like, 'All right, lock it in.' To get the strikeout of Hicks on a 3-2 slider and then to have Yan, on a slider, be able to pop it down there when he did at that moment, it was big."

Chasing German: Yankees starter (2-5) was unable to get through the fifth, surrendering six runs on five hits and striking out six. The rookie right-hander struggled to find command early, helping the Indians post four runs in the first two innings. He allowed back-to-back walks to and in the first, then a wild pitch allowed the two to advance before a groundout to first base by plated Lindor.

Lindor came around again in the second, scoring from first on a two-run double from Brantley. The left fielder's knock also brought in Gomes, who doubled in earlier in the frame. German needed 55 pitches (29 balls, 26 strikes) to get through the second, also walking four in that span.
The Tribe tagged German for two more in the fifth. Brantley led off the frame with a single to right, setting the table for Ramirez to lace a triple down the right-field line (his second of the season) and end German's night. German was replaced by , who gave up an RBI single to before retiring the next three batters.
"That was huge when they got the three and we came back and got two right back," Francona said. "Because you know they're coming. They're gonna do that. They're good. They're talented and they play hard till the end."

Lindor finished 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and two runs scored, and he now has 85 runs through 93 games, the fourth-highest total through that many games in franchise history, trailing Kenny Lofton (90 in 1994), Ray Chapman (88 in 1920) and Tris Speaker (86 in 1920). It's also the most prior to the All-Star break since the Rockies' Todd Helton scored 87 in 2003.
Francona said since taking over as the leadoff hitter, Lindor has been remarkable as a table-setter.
"He loves hitting up there, and we like him there," Francona said. "And then Brant and Josey hitting behind him -- when he first came up, [Lindor] would get picked off. You don't see that anymore. He's on base for a ton of runs."

Despite Lindor's day at the plate, arguably his most impressive play came in the field during the eighth. With Wade at third and nobody out, forced a ground ball from Gardner on the right side of an overshifted infield. Lindor, slightly left of second, ranged to his left, picked the grounder on a short hop and fired to first to narrowly get Gardner. The play scored Wade but prevented further damage.
"I know he can run," Lindor said. "I know in that situation what he's trying to do is put the ball in play. He wants to get [on base]. And just going off the pitch, understand where he's going to hit the ball. He hits ground balls if he doesn't pop the ball up. He put the swing on it, and I just wanted to get to the ball. If it goes up the middle, I've got a chance on any ball."

Right-hander Mike Clevinger (7-4, 3.34 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for a 7:15 p.m. ET start against the Yankees at Progressive Field on Saturday. In his previous start, against the Reds, Clevinger struck out 11 but took the loss after surrendering five runs on seven hits through six innings. Veteran left-hander and former Tribe arm (6-4, 3.34) will take the mound for New York.