By Brendan Ward
The Cleveland Indians came into Thursday’s game looking for a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on their way to a sixth consecutive win.
The Indians offense is still searching for consistency from just about everybody in the lineup. However, with ace Shane Bieber on the bump, they knew it wouldn’t take much, as he once again dominated en route to his fifth win on the season, a 2-0 win over the Pirates.
Bieber started for the Indians looking to continue his dominant 2020 season Thursday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The top of the first was uneventful for the Indians offense as they went down in order to start the game. In the bottom half of the inning,
Bieber struck out the first batter he saw, former Indian Erik González. Following that up, Kevin Newman dribbled a ball short of the mound, reaching on a Bieber throwing error over the head of first baseman Carlos Santana. The error had no effect, as a Josh Bell strikeout and Colin Moran grounder to second got the Tribe out of the inning.
In the second inning, the bottom of the order combined to bring across the first run of the game for the Indians. To start the offense off, Franmil Reyes grounded a single to third baseman JT Riddle. Following that up, Tyler Naquin hit a line drive single to left to advance Reyes into scoring position.
One batter later, catcher Beau Taylor hit a line drive to center field, his first hit as a member of the Indians that scored Reyes from second.
The Indians offense threatened in the third thanks to singles from both Lindor and Carlos Santana before Pirates’ Starter Trevor Williams struck out Reyes to strand them both.
In the bottom, the Pirates were able to get base runners on Bieber once again, starting with a González single with one out in the inning. Newman again took advantage of the defense playing further back on a soft ground ball single to third. With the Pirates threatening and their best hitter coming to the plate, the Indians lead was in grave danger.
With Bell at the plate and still only one out in the inning, indecisiveness would cost the Pirates. González was thrown out trying to steal third, Taylor’s throw to Ramirez making it in time thanks to the hesitation on the take-off from second. With the lead runner gone and now two out in the inning, Bieber turned his attention to Bell, striking him out to end the inning.
The Tribe loaded the bases to start the fourth, at the hands of a Naquin single and walks by both Domingo Santana and Bradley Zimmer. However, a visit from the dugout set Williams in the right direction as he put down the next two to end the inning and his outing.
In the bottom, as Bieber was settling in, a controversial called strike on a very low ball, would result in Moran being ejected by third base umpire Tripp Gibson for his verbal objection to the call as the Pirates went down in order.
Through the next two innings, Bieber continued his dominance, striking out four of the nine batters he faced to bring his total to 11 on the night. With the Indians clinging to a one point lead in the seventh, Sandy Alomar Jr. turned to Oliver Pérez.
Pérez only faced three batters in the inning, getting the first two outs before surrendering a line drive single to Jacob Stallings. Following the single, Alomar Jr. opted to go with Nick Wittgren to get González out to end the inning.
The eighth inning would bring the Tribe their second and final run of the game. A walk by Reyes, single by Naquin, and another walk by Domingo Santana had the bases loaded with zero outs to start the inning.
The next at-bat, Taylor grounded a ball to first base in which Bell went for the force at home. However, a bad throw pulled Stallings off of the plate giving Reyes his second run of the game, and a 2-0 lead to the Indians.
Still only holding on to a two run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, rookie sensation James Karinchak took the mound, surrendering a lead-off walk to Newman before sitting down the next three batters for a successful outing before turning things over to Brad Hand in the ninth.
Hand faced three batters in the ninth, earning his seventh save of the season, and completing the shutout over the Pirates.
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