It’s only fitting that the city of Rock n’ Roll has a major case of Bieber Fever, and no, not from the Canadian pop star. But because of Shane Bieber, and he is reaching rockstar status in Cleveland. Hearing the swing and misses of the batters he’s faced through his first two starts has been music to the ears of Tribe fans.
After a painful ninth inning performance by Brad Hand this past Wednesday vs. the Chicago White Sox, spirits were definitely down. Even though Zach Plesac pitched an extremely impressive game with only three hits allowed through eight scoreless innings, the non-existent hitting and of course the outrageous four-run ninth inning implosion lead by Hand, a bad taste was left in the mouths of Indians’ fans. With the momentum shifted after the loss, and going on the road face the Minnesota Twins, who just came off a 3-0 win against the St. Louis Cardinals, things were not looking good for the Tribe. But not on Shane Bieber’s watch.
Pitching has been a great concern for Terry Francona’s squad, and after witnessing another Brad Hand blunder, this concern was heightened. In a sixty game season, no team can afford to implode in the 9th as the Indians did. Each game is almost like a series it seems in this shortened season, and there’s no time to let games slip due to bad pitching. But there’s one pitcher who has elevated his game above everyone else, and his name is Shane Bieber.
Bieber had an incredible opening day start with fourteen K’s through six scoreless innings, which was tied for the second-most strikeouts in an opening day start, sharing that accomplishment with the legend Randy Johnson. But he wasn’t done. In his second start vs. the defending AL Central champions Twins, he had thirteen K’s through eight scoreless innings. With these performances, the 2019 All-Star Game MVP tied the record of most strikeouts in his first two starts with an astounding 27, sharing this achievement with only Karl Spooner in 1954, and one strikeout ahead of Curt Schilling in 2002.
It’s only up from here. Bieber has got the arm and the swagger to keep this Indians team hopes alive. Can Bieber keep this hype train going with his stellar outings? Let’s hope so. There are so many other factors that go into having a successful baseball team. But one thing is for sure: Bieber Fever has infected in Cleveland, and the only prescription is more strikeouts.