Bieber, a California native, pitched the Indians to a 6-2 victory over the Angels at Angel Stadium while being serenaded by chants of “Let’s Go Bieber. Let’s Go Bieber.”
It sounded a lot like the cheers that enveloped Bieber during the All-Star Game on July 9 when he struck out the National League in order in the fifth inning. That earned him the All-Star Game MVP award. Monday night he earned his 14th win.
Bieber lives in Laguna Hill, Calif., which is about 20 miles from Angel Stadium. It sounded like half the city made the trip to the Angels ballpark on Monday night.
He did not disappoint. Bieber came into with some impressive numbers: 233 strikeouts (third in the AL), 188 2/3 innings (third in the AL), 3.24 ERA (fifth in the AL) and a .218 batting average against (fifth in the AL). He improved on those numbers by going seven innings with eight strikeouts and five hits allowed.
Bieber (14-7, 3.17) did not walk a batter. He rarely does. Bieber has not issued more than three3 walks in a game since May 29.
“I’ve never seen that … it didn’t get in the way of his pitching,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bieber’s fan base. ”That was kind of cool to see. I know how fond we are of him, and that was a pretty cool moment.”
The victory pulled the Indians (84-61) to within five games of the idle Twins (88-55) in the American League Central. In the race for the Wild Card Game, they cut the Oakland (84-60) lead for the road position to a half-game. The Tampa Bay Rays (86-59) were idle as well, which meant the Indians pulled to within two games of them for the home position..
The Indians, with 17 games left to play in the regular season, are 3-1 on this trip. It started Friday with a three-game series against the Twins. The Indians took two out of three before heading west to Anaheim.
Bieber received early help from the offense. Francisco Lindor opened the game with a walk against rookie lefty Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 5.28). Oscar Mercado followed with a single and Yasiel Puig scored Lindor from second on a dribbler past first base with the Angel defense shifted to the left.
The Indians made it 3-0 in the second on a two-run homer by Jason Kipnis. It was his 17th of the season and third against a lefty. Franmil Reyes opened the inning with a walk. He struck out in his next three at-bats.
“He (Kipnis) was the only left-handed hitter in there today and he smacks a home run his first time up for the lead,” Francona said. “I think the rest was good for him with his wrist, and when he feels better, he’s a good player.”
Bieber’s only bad inning was the second. Albert Pujols started the inning with a homer, but Bieber shouldn’t feel too badly about that. It was the 655th of Pujols career — five behind Willie Mays for fifth place on the all-time list — so he’s that to a lot of pitchers. Andrelton Simmons and Luis Rengifo followed with consecutive one-out singles before Bieber settled into the game.
He retired 17 of the next 18 batters. Catcher Anthony Bemboom, who singled with one out in the fifth, was the only Angel to reach base. Bieber recorded seven of his eight strikeouts in that stretch, while improving to 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 14 career starts away from Progressive Field.
Rookie Yu Chang put the Indians in front 6-1 with a three-run homer in the sixth. It was Chang’s first big-league homer and gave the Indians 201 homers on the year. The Tribe is on pace to set a franchise record with 225 homers. It seems like every team in the big leagues, thanks to MLB’s baseball featuring “less drag," can say the same thing.
“It was a great swing, and that’s hard to do what he did,” Francona said of Chang. “Sometimes I think we forget he’s 22 years old and is getting a lot thrown at hi min a hurry.”
Carlos Carrasco relieved Bieber and gave a leadoff homer to rookie Jared Walsh before getting the inning under control. Carrasco, pitching while being treated for chronic myeloid leukemia, has allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings since being activated on Sept. 1.
“We got to get him on a roll, and we can, we will,” Francona said of Carrasco. “That’s how important he’s going to be to what we’re doing. We have to get him enough reps without it being too much.”
Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for the Tribe.
Rookie right-hander Zach Plesac (13-7, 3.24) will face the Angels and left-hander Jose Suarez (2-5, 6.45) on Tuesday at 10:07 p.m. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM will carry the game.
Plesac, coming off a loss to the White Sox, will be making his 19th start of the season. It will be his first career start against the Angels and will give him a chance to improve his 2-0 record against AL West teams.
Suarez, a rookie lefty, will be making his first appearance against the Tribe. He’s coming off a no-decision against the A’s. Left-handed hitters are batting .211 (15-for-71) against him.