On Wednesday, the All-Star Game MVP carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against Toronto before surrendering a ground-rule double to Blue Jays leadoff hitter Eric Sogard in a 4-0 Indians victory at Rogers Centre.
It was Bieber’s second career complete-game shutout following his 15-strikeout effort against Baltimore on May 19 in Cleveland. The one hit allowed is a career best for Bieber, who gave up two hits twice this season against Minnesota on March 31 and Toronto on April 5.
“For the majority of the night, he’s pitching with the game tied and just a one-run lead — because (Marcus) Strowman is so good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of both Bieber and Blue Jays starter Marcus Strowman. “He (Shane) just pitched like a veteran. He’s maturing so fast. He’s barely got a year under his belt, and he just gets better and better. He’s fun to watch.”
Cleveland secured a regular-season series win in Toronto for the first time since 2013 and won the season series against the Blue Jays, 6-1. The win helped the Tribe (59-42) creep closer to the Twins at just two games back in the American League Central Division race. Minnesota lost to New York on Wednesday at Target Field.
The Indians currently occupy the first AL wild card spot, two games ahead of Oakland.
Bieber (10-3, 3.47) faced the minimum number of Toronto batters through six innings. A walk to to Vladimir Guerrero Jr to lead off the second was erased on a double-play grounder to Jake Bauers off the bat of Justin Smoak. Bieber cruised through the next four innings, retiring 13 consecutive Blue Jays.
He worked out of trouble in the seventh after giving up Sogard’s double and hitting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. With the go-ahead run on base, Bieber got Guerrero on a fly out to center and struck out Smoak to end the threat.
“You worry a little bit, because he hadn’t been out of the stretch much,” Francona said of Bieber’s seventh inning. “At the same time, 14 pitches had been his longest inning ... it’s not like he had a lot of stressful innings pitching out of jams.”
Bieber threw 102 pitches and struck out 10 Blue Jays, his fifth double-digit strikeout effort this year. The walk to Guerrero was the only free pass he issued.
Francisco Lindor doubled, stole third and scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Oscar Mercado to give Bieber a 2-0 advantage in the eighth, and the Indians added on in the ninth when Jose Ramirez scored from third on a check-swing RBI ground out by Jordan Luplow.
Greg Allen’s third hit of the game, a two-out RBI single to center off Toronto reliever Wilmer Font, plated Jake Bauers to complete the scoring.
Cleveland collected base hits against Stroman (6-11, 2.96) in the second, third and fourth innings but couldn’t come up with an RBI hit. But when Allen singled with two out in the fifth, Kevin Plawecki delivered, smashing a double into the left-field corner on a first-pitch cut fastball from Stroman.
Allen raced around third and dove head-first to the plate, avoiding Danny Jansen’s tag. Toronto challenged home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth’s call, but the ruling stood and the Indians grabbed a 1-0 lead.
“He’s helped us win some games,” Francona said of Allen. “He’s always ready and has swung the bat much more like we thought he could his third time up here.”
It was Plawecki’s seventh double and 12th RBI. Allen, who also singled to lead off the third, extended his on-base streak to a career-best 18 games. He entered play Wednesday batting .395 with a 1.223 OPS in his previous 18 games.
The Indians travel to Kansas City to open a four-game weekend series at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Adam Plutko (3-2, 4.81) will start for Cleveland while KC sends lefty Mike Montgomery (1-3, 6.83) to the mound. First pitch is 8:15 p.m. The game will air on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.