Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber is off to a solid start for the Cleveland Indians.
Wade Miley, however, has been better during his relatively brief time on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds in 2021.
Looking to help the Indians avoid being swept in this three-game set at Cincinnati, Bieber also aims to keep Miley and the Reds from winning their eighth consecutive home contest on Sunday.
After allowing five runs over 12 1/3 innings of his first two starts, Bieber (1-1, 2.11 ERA) truly showed off that Cy Young-winning form on Tuesday, when he struck out 11 with a walk during a three-hit, nine-inning performance in a 2-0, 10-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“I love when he gets in that groove where he strikes out a lot of people,” catcher Roberto Perez told the Indians’ official website of Bieber, who has fanned 35 batters over 21 1/3 innings in 2021.
“When Bieber has his stuff like that, everything is working. It’s tough to hit him. I hope he continues to do what he’s doing so far this year.”
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts versus Cincinnati. He yielded home runs to Nick Castellanos (.316 batting average) and Eugenio Suarez and struck out eight over 7 2/3 innings of a 4-2 win there last season.
Cincinnati averaged 6.5 runs heading into Saturday’s contest, but was held in check for the most part. However, it had enough to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning victory. Cincinnati tied the game in the ninth on Jesse Winker’s RBI single, set up by a two-base fielding error by Cleveland first baseman Josh Naylor, and won it with Tyler Stephenson’s walk-off hit.
Sitting first in the NL Central, the Reds are 7-1 at home and trying to win eight straight there for the first time since 2009. They have not swept a series of at least three games from the Indians since June 2012.
Cincinnati should feel confident turning to Miley (2-0, 0.00 ERA), who has allowed just four hits while striking out nine with two walks over 11 scoreless innings of his first two starts — against Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The left-hander has never opened with three consecutive wins over his previous 10 seasons in the majors.
“Everything’s working out good,” Miley said.
“Not giving up a run, that’s great, any time. As long as I’m keeping us in ball games and giving us a chance at the end of the day, I’m going to be thrilled.”
Miley is 1-3 in seven starts with a 4.60 ERA against the Indians, but has not faced them since April 2019. He’s gotten the best of Cleveland star Jose Ramirez, who is 1-for-8 against Miley.
Ramirez is batting .231, but has a hit in three straight games for the Indians, who are a .500 team at the moment, but averaging 3.6 runs and been held to two or fewer six times through 14 games. Eddie Rosario is batting .320 with three RBIs in the last seven contests. His only hit in seven at-bats versus Miley is a home run.
With three hits Saturday, Winker is batting .394 (13-for-33) in the season. He’s just 1-for-7 against Bieber. The Reds hope to have Mike Moustakas back in the lineup Sunday after he missed the previous two games with a non-COVID-19-related illness.
–Field Level Media