CLEVELAND -- When Shane Bieber walked off the mound at the end of the eighth inning of the Indians' 10-0 win over the Orioles on Sunday, he tried to dodge Indians pitching coach Carl Willis to avoid being told he was done for the afternoon.
“Then he found me again and said, 'How much does it mean to you?' and I said, 'A lot,'” Bieber said of completing the game. “That was kind of the end of the conversation.”
Bieber stepped out of the dugout to start the ninth to a roaring ovation from the 21,377 fans in attendance. The 23-year-old had already thrown 98 pitches through the first eight frames, but no one was going to take the ball out of his hand.
He recorded the first out on a five-pitch strikeout of Dwight Smith Jr. before Joey Rickard grounded out to third on the first pitch he saw. Bieber then threw three consecutive curveballs to fan Chris Davis and secure his first career complete game and shutout. It was the Indians’ first nine-inning shutout since Corey Kluber on Aug. 4, 2018.
“I was kind of eying it the whole time, especially when I got into a pretty good rhythm in the middle innings,” Bieber said. “And guys like Cookie kept [singing Justin Bieber’s “Baby”] more and more during the game. Things were rolling pretty well and I was kind of eyeing it the whole time.
“I was ready for it.”
A milestone performance
With an extra day of rest under his belt, not only did Bieber go the distance, he allowed just five hits with a career-high 15 strikeouts and no walks on 107 pitches. He became the fourth-youngest pitcher since at least 1908 to record 15 K's and no walks in a shutout. Here’s the company he joins:
1984: Dwight Gooden; 19 years, 301 days old
1998: Kerry Wood; 20 year, 324 days
2016: Vince Velasquez; 23 years, 312 days
2019: Shane Bieber; 23 years, 323 days
“I wasn't really trying to think about it,” Bieber said of his strikeouts. “I think the nine innings and the shutout was a little bit more important to me. So just really going out there and being as aggressive as I could with all four pitches in the zone was what I was trying to do.”
It was the first shutout with at least 15 strikeouts by a Major League starter since Houston’s Gerrit Cole on May 4, 2018, and was just the fourth shutout by an Indians starter with 15-plus K's, the last coming on Sept. 25, 2015 by Carlos Carrasco.
“I just thought we got completely dominated,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “That was masterful. He worked ahead. He had really good stuff. He had a great breaking ball that we just continued to swing at underneath the zone. We didn’t make any adjustments during the game. And he was just really, really good. We didn’t adjust at all and make it tough on him.”
According to Statcast, Bieber’s four-seamer averaged 94.2 mph, which is 1.2 mph faster than he’s averaged so far this season. But his curveball and slider were coming in hotter as well, registering 1.7 mph and 1.5 mph faster, respectively. He set a career-high with 27 swinging strikes: four on the fastball, 12 on the slider, nine on the curve and two on the changeup.
“He picked a good day to miss bats,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because it was a really good day to hit. And I thought he had the best breaking ball we’ve seen yet. And he obviously located his fastball. He didn’t walk anybody. That was a pretty impressive day.”
Time to celebrate
When Bieber returned to the clubhouse, his teammates doused him in anything they could get their hands on to celebrate his big day on the mound.
“I don't even know,” Bieber said. “But it smelled interesting and there were a lot of different ingredients in it. It was the best worst time of my life for sure.”