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Bieber heads shutout as Tribe routs Tigers

Indians No. 3 prospect K's 9; Alonso launches grand slam
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Something wasn't sitting right with Indians rookie Shane Bieber before Friday's start against the Tigers at Progressive Field.

The right-hander could only describe the anxiety as jitters. But then a storm rolled into downtown Cleveland, as did a nearly two-hour-long rain shower. It wasn't until after the storm that Bieber admitted he calmed down.

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CLEVELAND -- Something wasn't sitting right with Indians rookie Shane Bieber before Friday's start against the Tigers at Progressive Field.

The right-hander could only describe the anxiety as jitters. But then a storm rolled into downtown Cleveland, as did a nearly two-hour-long rain shower. It wasn't until after the storm that Bieber admitted he calmed down.

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"The rain delay kind of calmed me down, and I tried to stay occupied and locked in and loose," Bieber said. "That definitely helped me go out there and pitch my game and settle in."

Whatever Bieber did, the outcome resulted in another impressive outing for the Indians' No. 3 prospect, as ranked by MLB Pipeline, who improved to 2-0 after tossing seven shutout innings in the Tribe's 10-0 win against Detroit. Bieber struck out nine, gave up four hits and walked one as the Indians recorded their American League-leading eighth shutout of the season.

"I was saying before the game I was excited to watch [Bieber] pitch, and that's why," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, shoot. He pounded the zone with three different pitches, he changed speeds. … That was fun to watch."

The win was the fifth in a row for the Indians (41-33), opening a six-game lead in the American League Central, while the second-place Tigers fell to 36-40. Tigers starter Mike Fiers fell to 5-4 on the season after giving up four runs over five innings.

Bieber (2-0) struck out five of the first six batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until Jose Iglesias sent a one-out single to left field in the third. Iglesias, one of Detroit's hottest hitters, with hits in 11 of the last 13 games, batting .348 with eight RBIs in that span.

Video: DET@CLE: Bieber, Lindor talk victory over Tigers

Bieber's biggest jam came in the fifth inning after allowing back-to-back, one-out singles to John Hicks and James McCann. But he was able to get JaCoby Jones swinging on a backdoor slider to escape the threat without damage.

"He threw the ball well," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "We didn't get too many big swings on him. He had a nice breaking ball. We watched the video on him. We knew his ball jumped, and guys were coming back saying his ball was jumping pretty good. He didn't look like he was really throwing that hard, but his ball had some jump on it. He got us today."

The 23-year-old Bieber perhaps saved his best work for the seventh. He led off the inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Niko Goodrum and Hicks, then forced McCann to pop out to shallow center. It took Bieber only 10 pitches to retire the side in his final inning.

"I'm just trying to go out there and attack as much as I can," Bieber said. "I think that's the best way to go about things, especially early on, is to be aggressive and see if your stuff plays."

Video: DET@CLE: Bieber, 3 homers lift Indians to 10-0 win

Bieber's night ended after 97 pitches, 63 of which were strikes. Francona raved after the game about Bieber's strike-throwing ability and instinct to simply go after hitters, saying it's especially exciting to see given it's only Bieber's third big league start.

"For a young kid coming to the big leagues for the first time, you never see that. Usually, it takes a lot to kind of figure out they can throw strikes and get through it. He just keeps attacking, and it gets exciting."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yonder Alonso put the exclamation point on the Tribe's five-run seventh inning and made it a 9-0 game after hitting his fourth career grand slam, his second of the season. Alonso sent a 2-1 fastball from Johnny Barbato 405 feet to right-center, with a 29-degree launch angle and 103.2 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. Barbato started the frame allowing two singles -- including an RBI knock by Edwin Encarnacion -- and a pair of walks before giving up the slam. The hit marked the 12th homer of the season for Alonso, who went 2-for-4 on the night.

Video: DET@CLE: Alonso blasts a grand slam to center field

"I feel like home runs are mistakes," Alonso said, jokingly. "Right there, you're just trying to obviously get a good pitch to hit and just try to hit it hard, [and] hopefully, it finds a hole. That's the last thing on my mind is trying to hit a homer. To me, it's just trying to get a good pitch and just try to hit it, [and] hopefully, it finds a hole."

Yonder Alonso's son reacts to his grand slam

Alonso's home run was one of three hit by the Tribe. Francisco Lindor and Encarnacion each hit their 17th homers of the season. Lindor lifted a solo homer in the third inning, and Encarnacion hammered a two-run shot in the fourth.

Video: DET@CLE: Encarnacion clubs a 2-run homer to left

SOUND SMART
Bieber's start has put him with impressive company among other starters in the franchise's history. With nine punchouts on Friday, Bieber became the first Tribe pitcher since Luis Tiant to strike out six or more batters in each of his first three Major League starts.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Trevor Bauer (6-5, 2.50 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday, when the Indians will host the Tigers in a 6:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Bauer has a 1.99 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 49 2/3 innings in his past seven turns. Detroit will start Francisco Liriano (3-2, 3.90), who returns from the disabled list.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Shane Bieber