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Despite feeling ill, Bieber notches 200th K

Right-hander whiffs seven but handed fifth loss of year
@MandyBell02
August 14, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Not even an illness could keep Shane Bieber from getting penciled into the Indians' history books. Because he felt sick to his stomach, the Tribe's starter almost didn't make it out of the second inning. But Bieber was able to dig deep, grinding through six innings in the

CLEVELAND -- Not even an illness could keep Shane Bieber from getting penciled into the Indians' history books.

Because he felt sick to his stomach, the Tribe's starter almost didn't make it out of the second inning. But Bieber was able to dig deep, grinding through six innings in the Indians' 5-1 loss to the Red Sox at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Box score

"He woke up feeling sick. He was nauseous the entire game and he gave us six," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, there was a chance after the second inning that he was gonna come out of that game and he stayed out there for six innings and gave us a chance to win. That was impressive."

In the top of the fifth inning, the 24-year-old recorded his 200th strikeout of the season on an 85.4-mph slider to J.D. Martinez, becoming the youngest Indians pitcher to reach the milestone since 21-year-old Dennis Eckersley in 1976.

"It's nice," Bieber said. "It's obviously something guys, including myself, try to reach. There was a lot of talk last year if I was going to do it or not. ... There was a lot of smack talk in between seasons and in the offseason. It's nice to do it. I'm sure I'll reflect on it later."

Bieber came out of Spring Training as the team's No. 5 starter, and although Francona pays little attention to a hurler's spot in the rotation after week one of the season, Bieber has shined in his second big league season, becoming one of the Tribe's top arms in the rotation.

The righty entered his 25th start on Wednesday with 156 1/3 innings under his belt, putting him on pace to eclipse 200 innings by the end of the regular season. If -- or when -- he reaches that mark, Bieber will become the youngest Tribe pitcher to work that many innings since CC Sabathia in 2001 and the youngest Cleveland member of the 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts club since Sam McDowell tossed 236 1/3 innings with 236 K's in 1968.

Bieber entered play on Wednesday ranking third in WHIP in the American League (1.00), tied for third in opponents' batting average (.213) and fourth in strikeouts (193). On top of Bieber's name getting penciled into the Indians' history books, the first-time All-Star already brought home some hardware this season, being named the All-Star Game MVP for striking out the side in his one inning on the mound at Progressive Field.

Bieber's two runs in six frames against the Red Sox may not have been his strongest outing of the year as he battled through his sickness -- in fact, it was his shortest start since July 19 (having two complete games sandwiched in between) -- but the righty turned in his fifth straight quality start, striking out seven and walking one on 107 pitches.

"Yeah, I was kind of feeling that way all morning," Bieber said. "Kind of turned a corner there in the fourth inning, so I don't really think it's much of a story. Felt good enough to go out there and compete."

Despite feeling ill, Bieber knew he was facing a difficult lineup.

"Pretty relentless, just not really any spots to take a break," Bieber said of the Red Sox's lineup. "But going where we're going this year, just gotta get used to pitching in those games and against those types of lineups, because they're one of those lineups that can put some damage on you and do some damage. You've got to be able to combat that and just be better."

Boston put the game out of reach by turning those two runs into five on a rare three-run inning off Nick Goody.

Goody's streak of 17 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run came to an end Wednesday afternoon, after he intentionally walked Rafael Devers -- who went 8-for-10 against the Indians in the last two games -- to get to Xander Bogaerts in the top of the seventh. With two men on, Bogaerts launched his second homer of the game. Goody had given up two runs -- both unearned -- on nine hits with 23 strikeouts through his previous 20 innings.

"Yeah, sometimes it's a little bit like pick your poison," Francona said of the intentional walk. "I mean, Devers is in one of those streaks right now where it looks like he's playing softball. It didn't make me feel good with the result, but I would have had a more difficult time if [Devers had come through]. We've got an open base and we've got a guy that's 8-for-9. Pitching to him, that didn't seem to make sense."

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.