Historically it hasn’t mattered much, but the Detroit Tigers nonetheless will have an extra day to figure out Shane Bieber.
The Cleveland Guardians’ ace will try to continue his dominance of the Tigers on Saturday when the teams reconvene after Friday’s contest in Detroit was rained out.
The Guardians and Tigers will spend most of Independence Day at the ballpark, as Friday’s game was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on July 4. But first the teams will spend most of the Memorial Day weekend together as well.
Detroit won Thursday’s game 4-3 on Miguel Cabrera’s walk-off single.
Cleveland’s Oscar Gonzalez made his major league debut on Thursday after getting called up from Triple-A Columbus. He had two hits, including a double.
“If he swings at strikes, he’s going to do some damage,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s never going to be a big high-walk guy. That’s OK, we don’t need him to do that. But he hit the ball the opposite way. Hit the ball up the middle.”
Cleveland will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday. The starting pitchers for Friday’s postponed game will take the mound a day later.
The 26-year-old Bieber (1-3, 3.55 ERA) may not have the same velocity he displayed in previous years, but he still posted a season-high 10 strikeouts when he faced the Tigers on Sunday. Bieber also matched his season high with seven innings pitched and allowed just two earned runs, but still wound up with the loss.
Bieber has notched double-digit strikeouts in his last six starts against Detroit, and his total on Sunday was his most since he whiffed 12 Tigers last May 27.
In nine career starts against the American League Central Division rival, Bieber is 6-3 with a 2.31 ERA while striking out 86 in 62 1/3 innings.
Bieber’s average four-seamer on Sunday clocked in at just 90.4 MPH, several ticks lower than two seasons ago.
“Guys pitch with what they have,” Francona said. “If velocity ticks up or ticks down over the course of the season, you have to pitch with where you are. I think Biebs has a great understanding of that.”
In his latest quality outing against the Tigers, Bieber used the tried-and-true formula of throwing first-pitch strikes.
Bieber will be opposed by rookie Alex Faedo (1-1, 3.00), who will be making his fifth career start. Faedo collected his first major league win on Sunday by holding the Guardians to two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Faedo survived a shaky first inning in which he allowed a run and then prevented further damage in a bases-loaded, one-out scenario.
“He is fearless,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s got some weapons and he’s got some competitiveness, which is good. He’s not afraid. The moment never speeds up too fast for him. He seems always under control. There is a lot to like with him.”
The Tigers have won two straight after losing five of their previous six contests. A three-game winning streak would be their second longest of the season.
Cabrera had three hits and two RBIs on Thursday and raised his season average to .300 with his eighth multi-hit game of the month.
“He has swung the bat so well this year,” outfielder Robbie Grossman said. “Nothing surprises me at this point.”
–Field Level Media