Pitching 'beyond his years,' Bieber steps up

Righty combines with bullpen to three-hit Tigers and win series

April 11th, 2019

DETROIT -- Two days ago, when it was announced that Mike Clevinger would be out several weeks with a back injury, manager Terry Francona said no one around the league is going to feel sorry for the Indians. He added that he believes, regardless of the Tribe's injury situation, the club will find a way to figure things out.

offered an example of that Thursday afternoon, in a 4-0 win over the Tigers, with a scoreless start in which he allowed just three hits while striking out six in seven innings.

“Not like anyone is gonna put any extra pressure on each other or themselves,” Bieber said. “But I think everybody knows as long as everybody steps up, we’ll be all right. Obviously [Clevinger is] a big loss, but just being able to have everyone do their part and step up, I think we’ll be all right.”

Bieber did his part by not allowing a hit until the fourth and allowing only one Tiger to reach third base.

The only marginal trouble for Bieber came in the fifth inning, when the Tigers put runners on first and second with Cleveland ahead by three. But Bieber induced a JaCoby Jones popout and a Josh Harrison fielder’s choice to dodge any harm.

“[Bieber] got behind a number of times, but he fought his way back into the count,” Francona said of his 23-year-old righty. “Kind of pitched beyond his years. That’s the best way to put it. He just looked like a veteran out there.”

One pitch that stands out in Bieber’s repertoire right now is his slider. He collected seven swinging strikes on it Thursday, adding to the 10 he got from it in his last start against Toronto. By spotting his fastball effectively within the zone, Bieber set up out-of-the-zone breaking pitches that kept Detroit hitters off balance.

After the game, Bieber received the honor as “King of the Hill” for the Indians, an award among the Tribe's starters that goes to the pitcher with the best performance of the series. Trevor Bauer, the incumbent winner, placed a crown on Bieber’s head moments before Bieber spoke with reporters.

“Do you really do your interviews with this?” Bieber asked Bauer, before taking off the crown and putting it on a chair.

Bieber later said he’d wear the crown on the team flight to Kansas City, where the Indians open a three-game series on Friday.

Martin shines against former team

said he really likes playing at Comerica Park. And who can blame him? After a resurgent half-season with the Tigers last year, he returned this week and reached base in nine of his 15 plate appearances.

Martin also homered twice, including a solo shot Thursday in a performance that left him a triple shy of the cycle. His strong effort was matched only by , who went 3-for-3 with two walks and raised his season batting average to .425 (17-for-40). At this point last season, Santana was 6-for-40 (.150).

Martin, who was acquired by Cleveland from Detroit at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last July, enjoys seeing old friends in the other dugout. But that doesn’t impact what he does on the field.

“I know all those guys [on Detroit], but at the same time we’ve gotta compete,” he said. “And that’s what I do. We laugh, we talk, we have fun. But at the same time … that’s what I do -- go out there and compete.”