Shane Bieber is coming off his shortest outing of the season. Considering his success against the Minnesota Twins over the years, he might be in good shape to bounce back.
Looking to avoid losing back-to-back starts for the first time since 2019, Bieber and the Indians aim to keep the visiting Twins from matching a season high with their third consecutive victory on Saturday.
Bieber (4-3, 3.17 ERA) might not be pitching like the dominant Cy Young winner from 2020, but he’s still, obviously, a huge challenge for opposing hitters. Yet, the right-hander lasted just 4 2/3 innings while giving up three runs and five hits, walking four and striking out seven in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Seattle.
It was the first time Bieber failed to complete five innings this season and the third straight contest he struck out fewer than 10 batters.
“It’s frustrating not doing what I know I can do and what I set out to do,” Bieber told the Indians’ official website. “But, it is what it is, and I got to focus on the next one.”
Bieber last dropped consecutive regular-season starts in August 2019. He’s also 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five career home starts versus Minnesota, and went 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts against the Twins in 2020.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz is a dismal 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts against Bieber, but its uncertain if the slugger will be available after he was scratched from Friday’s lineup with wrist soreness. Minnesota teammate Josh Donaldson, though, is 3-for-8 with two homers against Bieber.
Despite owning the American League’s worst record at 16-28, the Twins will try for a third straight win after a nine-run fourth inning propelled them in Friday’s 10-0 victory in the series opener. Rookie Alex Kirilloff, fresh off the 10-day injury list from a wrist issue, had two hits with two RBIs. Kirilloff is batting .333 with 13 RBIs while hitting safely in his past eight games
The Twins will turn to Kenta Maeda (2-2, 5.26), who has been dealing with some groin tightness that plagued him during Sunday’s 7-6 loss to Oakland. However, he appears ready to take the mound this weekend.
“(Maeda) considered it mild and something that he was perfectly OK throwing with,” manager Rocco Baldelli told the Twins’ official website. “But that being said, it’s not something that we want to carry on throughout the season and have him deal with over the long haul.”
The right-hander threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out eight in a win over Texas on May 3. In two starts since then, he yielded eight runs (six earned) with 12 hits and five strikeouts over nine innings. Maeda allowed five runs and three homers — two to Franmil Reyes and one to Jose Ramirez — over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Cleveland on April 27.
Ramirez is 8-for-19 in his past six games for the Indians. Reyes, though, is 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts in his past six home contests.
–Field Level Media