Cleveland Indians right-hander Shane Bieber vies to etch his name into the franchise record book on Sunday afternoon when he takes the mound against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers in the rubber match of the three-game series.
Bieber (6-0, 1.20 ERA) has struck out at least eight batters in each of his first eight starts to begin the season. That’s the second-longest streak to begin a season in team history, behind only Bob Feller, who did it in his first nine starts of 1946.
For now, Bieber looks to pick up where he left off after being named the American League Pitcher of the Month for August. The 25-year-old struck out nine and allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings of a no-decision against Kansas City on Monday.
Bieber, who will make his first career start versus Milwaukee, will see a familiar face behind the plate when catcher Roberto Perez returns to action. Perez has been sidelined with a “tired” right shoulder.
“Roberto threw yesterday and today so he should be in there Sunday,” Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said.
Bieber and Perez would be wise to keep tabs on Keston Hiura, who went deep in his third consecutive contest in Milwaukee’s 4-3 loss on Saturday. Hiura, who leads the Brewers with 11 homers, carries a six-game hitting streak (7-for-23, three homers, nine RBIs and six runs scored) into the series finale.
Christian Yelich is riding a majors-best 25-game on-base streak for the Brewers (18-20), who have lost five of their last six road games.
Despite those gaudy numbers, Brewers manager Craig Counsell lamented his team’s inability to come through in the clutch on Saturday.
“We had the guys up there that we wanted up there numerous times, and we just didn’t cash in,” Counsell said. “You don’t get to draw up who’s up at the plate in the big spots or in the moments, but we had the right guys up at the plate to do something.”
Cesar Hernandez did precisely that for the Indians (24-15) to give them their first walk-off victory of the season. He capped a three-hit performance with an RBI single in the ninth inning off Josh Hader to send the club to its seventh win in 10 outings.
“Hernandez, as I said before, is going to put you in a good situation, you feel good when he’s at the plate because he’s gonna make contact,” Alomar said. “He’s a good situational player.”
Hernandez is 4-for-8 in his career versus Sunday starter Brett Anderson (2-2, 4.18 ERA), who will look to rebound after allowing season highs in both runs (four) and hits (nine) in five innings of a no-decision against Pittsburgh.
While that outing wasn’t one of his best, Anderson routinely has flustered the Indians in his career. He sports a 4-0 record with an 0.94 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in six starts against Cleveland.
The 32-year-old has kept Francisco Lindor (0-for-6) under wraps while Carlos Santana is just 1-for-5.
–Field Level Media