Bieber puts All-Star potential on display in gem

July 7th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Shane Bieber learned on Friday afternoon that he was headed to the All-Star Game for the first time. Less than 24 hours later, he had to set emotion and ticket requests aside and focus on his start against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Bieber went out and delivered an All-Star caliber performance, allowing two runs and four hits over eight innings, Roberto Perez hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth and Francisco Lindor homered twice in a 7-2 victory on Saturday.

“I tried not to think about it, but it’s hard not to,” Bieber said, of his All-Star nod. “I caught myself getting a little too excited. Now after today, I can relax and I’ll probably enjoy it a little more.”

Bieber struck out eight with no walks to help the Tribe take the season series from its in-state rivals for the fifth straight season. Indians manager Terry Francona said he was not concerned about Bieber’s mental state heading into Saturday’s game.

“I wasn’t, but that might be a concern for some guys,” Francona said. “With Bieber, he’s a really grounded kid. If he didn’t pitch well today, it wouldn’t have been because of that. He pitched like an All-Star. I thought he got better as the game progressed. He found his slider about the fourth or fifth inning, and that helps.”

Lindor led off the game with a home run off Anthony DeSclafani, his 13th of the season. It was his fourth leadoff homer this season and 16th of his career.

In the bottom half, Yasiel Puig put the Reds ahead 2-1 with his 20th home run of the season.

“Puig hit a two-iron out,” Francona said. “That ball was killed.”

Lindor’s second home run caromed off the right-field foul pole to tie the score at 2 in the fifth. It was his third multi-homer game this season and 11th of his career.

“This ballpark makes you nervous, especially in right-field there,” Francona said.

Lindor's six career homers against the Reds are his most against any NL opponent.

The Indians had the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings but didn’t score. They did most of their damage late in Saturday’s game with several fine defensive plays on both sides.

“It was a well-played game,” Francona said. “We scored late, and because of that we won.”

Bieber retired 16 of the next 17 batters after Puig’s first-inning homer. Puig had three of the four hits off him through seven innings and finished a triple shy of the cycle.

In the eighth, Perez took a 3-2 pitch from Michael Lorenzen out to right-center field for his 16th home run of the season putting the Tribe ahead to stay. Perez went 4-for-5 for his second career four-hit game, first since 2016.

“When he drives the ball to right field, he’s strong enough to get rewarded for it,” Francona said. “It makes him dangerous.”

It was the second straight start that Bieber has pitched eight innings. He now has won six road starts, tied for second-most among AL pitchers.

“[The All-Star Game] gives me a forum to brag about him, which is great,” Francona said. “But it doesn’t change how I feel about him. We’ve loved this kid from the day he got here. He’s a hard worker. He competes. We already loved him.”