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Bieber goes seven scoreless as Indians batter Detroit

By PAUL HOYNES • Updated Jun 23, 2018 at 12:44 AM

CLEVELAND — The Tigers made a point of not letting Jose Ramirez beat them Friday night, walking him in his first four plate appearances. The man with 22 homers and 50 RBI never got a chance to swing the bat in a meaningful situation.

But it didn't matter because the Indians are not a one-man band.

Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso homered and rookie right-hander Justin Bieber struck out nine in seven scoreless innings as the Indians beat the Tigers, 10-0, for their fifth straight victory.

Progressive Field is not the Tigers' favorite ballpark to visit. They've lost eight straight games here and 21 of their last 27. This year they're 0-5 on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin had some fun with Bieber when they changed his walk-up music to a Justin Bieber song. Not exactly cutting edge humor, but it played well in the dugout. The joke didn't seem to bother Bieber. He opened the game with seven straight outs, five on strikeouts, before Jose Iglesias singled with one out in the third.

"I was laughing," said Bieber, when asked what he did when he heard the song. "Frankie (Lindor) was near the mound kind of singing along and making fun of me. I asked him, 'Who did this?' I thought it was him because he was enjoying it so much, but I think I found out who it was. It was one of the starting five.

"My intuition said it was Klubes."

Bieber, who pitched 5 2/3 innings in each of his first two starts, pitched into and out of trouble in the fifth and sixth, but retired the side in order in the seventh. He struck out Niko Goodrum and John Hicks to start the inning just for emphasis. He's started his big-league career with 22 strikeouts and three walks in 18 1/3 innings.

"Remember I was telling you before the game that I was excited to watch him pitch -- that's why," said manager Terry Francona. "I mean, shoot, he pounded the zone with three different pitches. He changed speeds. We made an error (Jason Kipnis in fourth inning) and two pitchers later we got a double play.

"One inning they got a swinging bunt and bloop hit to right. Then he attacked the zone and got out of it. Man, that was fun to watch. The way he finished the seventh was the way he looked in the very first inning of the game."

The Indians finally got the best of Detroit starter Mike Fiers (5-4, 4.29). Fiers was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two starts vs. Cleveland this year, but the Tribe was ready for him Friday.

Lindor made him pay in the third with his 17th homer of the season for a 1-0 lead. Fiers had two out in the inning, but fell behind Lindor, 3-1. Lindor sent the next pitch, a 90 mph fastball, into the right-field seats.

Fiers, 3-2 in his career against the Tribe, started the fourth by walking Ramirez. Encarnacion followed with a first-pitch homer onto the home-run plaza in left for a 3-0 lead. It was Encarnacion's 17th homer and his first since June 3.

Michael Brantley stretched the lead to 4-0 with a double in the fifth after Tyler Naquin reached on a wild pitch after striking out. Fiers allowed four runs on four hits in five innings.

Alonso ended the competitive portion of the game with his second grand slam of the season, a line drive to center for a 9-0 lead in the seventh. It was the Tribe's fifth slam of the season and the fourth in Alonso's career.

According to Baseball Savant.com, Johnny Barbato's fastball was delivered at 93.5 mph and left Alonso's bat at 103.5 mph. The ball traveled an estimated 405 feet.

"I feel like home runs are mistakes, man," said Alonso. "Right there, I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit and just hit it hard. Hopefully, it finds a hole. That's the last thing on my mind is trying to hit a homer."

It was the Tribe's AL-leading eighth shutout of the season.

What it means

Bieber is the first Tribe pitcher to strike out six or more batters in his first three big-league appearances since Luis Tiant. El Tiante did it in 1964.

The pitches

Bieber threw 97 pitches, 63 (65 percent) for strikes. Fiers threw 85 pitches, 50 (59 percent) for strikes.

Thanks for coming

The Tigers and Indians drew 30,926 to Progressive Field on Friday night. First pitch was at 8:51 p.m. with a temperature of 68 degrees. The start of the game was delayed by rain for 1 hour and 41 minutes.

Up next

Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer (6-5, 2.50) will face the Tigers and left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-2, 3.90), who will be activated from the disabled list before the 6:10 p.m. start.

Bauer, who shut out the White Sox over eight innings in his last start, is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA against the Tigers this season. Liriano went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring on May 29.

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