ANAHEIM -- Monday night at Angel Stadium was technically an away game for the Indians, but for starter Shane Bieber, it felt a lot like home.
A loud chant of “Let’s go, Bieber!” broke out as the Orange, Calif., native warmed up for the bottom of the first inning. And Bieber put on a show for a sizable contingent of family and friends, fanning eight across seven innings of one-run ball in the Tribe’s 6-2 win over the Angels.
“It was crazy,” said Bieber, who estimated that about 150 people came out to support him. “Never experienced anything like that. It was special for me, and just glad we could go out there and do our job and get the win.”
“I’ve never seen that,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It didn’t get in the way of his pitching. It was kind of cool to see. I know how fond we are of him, but I thought that was a pretty cool moment.”
Bieber spent his teenage years playing baseball at Laguna Hills High School -- about a 20-mile drive from Angel Stadium -- and was drafted out of the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. Trips to Angel Stadium were a regular occurrence for him growing up.
“Got a little bit nostalgic pregame in the bullpen,” Bieber said. “They were playing Train, ‘Calling All Angels.’ A lot of memories here.”
Where Bieber pitches these days doesn’t seem to matter much, though. The right-hander has been remarkably consistent, posting a 2.27 ERA over his last 10 starts and getting through at least six innings in all of them.
“He’s got good stuff,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “A good curveball, a good slider. He uses his fastball well. He uses it up in the zone. He’s got good stuff. He’s a good pitcher. It’s not just the Angels he’s pitching well against.”
Even so, Bieber was noticeably sharp against the Angels, issuing no walks and throwing 77 of his 111 pitches for strikes. The sole blemish on Bieber’s line was a home run to Albert Pujols to lead off the second. That inning had the potential to get out of hand, as Bieber had to work out of a two-on, one-out jam. But once he did, it was smooth sailing for the All-Star, who ended his night by retiring the final eight batters he faced.
“Just trusting [catcher Roberto Perez],” Bieber said of what worked for him. “I thought we changed speeds extremely well and threw all four pitches for strikes and went from there. I trust in him and his knowledge, and working together, we found a pretty good rhythm there, and I was able to go out there and just try to get outs.”
The Twins were off Monday, moving Indians to five games out of first place in the American League Central. With the A’s losing to the Astros, the Tribe is now half-game back of the second AL Wild Card spot.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get back on track with ourselves and play our game,” Bieber said. “I think that’s what we’ve been doing the past week or so, and that’s what’s really important. We can’t really control anything else other than what we’re doing, so we’re just focusing on that, and let the cards fall where they may.”