The list of records that Shane Bieber has set and milestones he has reached this season seems to be never-ending. And after adding another one in the Indians’ 3-1 loss to the Twins on Friday night at Target Field, one piece of paper may not be enough to fit them all.
By fanning Ryan Jeffers in the fifth inning, Bieber recorded his 100th strikeout of the season in just 62 1/3 innings. That is the fewest innings that it has taken any starting pitcher to reach the 100-K mark since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It's a special accomplishment,” Bieber said.
Here’s a look at the hurlers Bieber topped:
Max Scherzer: 63.0 IP in 2018
Gerrit Cole: 65.0 IP in 2019
Kerry Wood: 65.2 IP in 2001
“It's great to be mentioned in the same sentence as a lot of those guys,” Bieber said. “But at the same time, yeah, I'll reflect a little bit more on it later, once this year is over and done with because right now we're kind of just reflecting as a team on the loss and how we can move forward.”
Entering Friday night, Bieber led the Majors in strikeouts per nine innings (14.67) and strikeout percentage (42.9 percent). The 25-year-old matched his season high in earned runs, allowing three on five hits with eight strikeouts through seven innings. The two mistakes came on two sliders -- one resulted in a two-run homer to Byron Buxton and the other a solo homer by Jeffers.
“I felt good all night,” Bieber said. “It really came down to I made two mistakes, and they were big, and they took advantage of them. They're on one of my better pitches -- it wasn't too great tonight. But they were both on sliders, hanging sliders, just spinning right back into their barrels and into the zone. And while it's really, really frustrating, you gotta take it for what it's worth and move on and get better from it. I just gotta execute a couple pitches a little bit better.”
In all 10 of his starts this season, Bieber has fanned at least eight batters, which is the most to start a season in Indians’ history. It’s also the second most consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts to start a season since at least 1901, trailing only Randy Johnson, who did so in 15 straight starts in 2000.
“He wasn’t the Shane Bieber of [old], but he still managed to keep us in the game,” Indians temporary manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “At times, he got a little predictable with two strikes, too many breaking balls. But he still competes out there. He ended up striking out eight guys, walked two guys and kept us in the game. At the end of the day, he still did what he was supposed to do. If we would’ve scored some runs, it would’ve looked great.”
But for the second consecutive night, the Indians were kept off the board until the ninth inning, as José Ramírez added a solo homer in the final frame on Friday. Aside from that, the offense mustered just five other hits, resulting in Bieber’s first loss of the season.
Over the last three games, the Indians have scored just two runs on 14 hits. And while they attempted to create a spark by shaking up the top of their lineup, the impact wasn’t immediate. Now, as Cleveland slips 1 1/2 games behind the Twins for second place and 2 1/2 games behind the first-place White Sox in the American League Central, the club has two weeks of the regular season left to find a way to wake up its offense.
“I feel like everybody knows what they need to do to get going,” Bieber said. “That's the thing. We're all professionals here, and some of the best in the league. I know what we can do as a team all together, but especially offensively. I've been on the wrong end of it many times, and it's just a matter of getting the right spot and making the playoffs and hitting the ground running going into the playoffs.
“I know we're a dangerous lineup. It's just about getting everything going in the right direction.”