Indians rally in 8th to end 4-game slide, beat Rays 3-1

Shane Bieber strikes out 10, Brad Hand picks up 13th save in win

Daryl Ruiter
May 24, 2019 - 10:35 pm

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Indians will take runs, and wins, any way they can get them.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

With the game tied at 1, Cleveland managed to scratch across a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 deadlock and end a four-game losing streak Friday night at Progressive Field in what can only be described as a grind out win.

“It was big,” Indians starter Shane Bieber, who struck out 10 but didn’t factor in the decision, said. “It was just a really good game, a tough game and just to be able to come out on top I think is gonna prove big for us.”

Brad Hand picked up his 13th save of the season, striking out a pair in the ninth.

Francisco Lindor led off the eighth with a single before Jason Kipnis sacrificed to move him to second – and nearly beat the throw to first. Carlos Santana walked, Jordan Luplow, who hit his sixth homer of the season in the fourth, was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Following Jose Ramirez striking out, catcher Roberto Perez dribbled one down the third-base line, but Rays third baseman Daniel Robertson couldn't make the barehanded play allowing Lindor to score the go-ahead run for a 2-1 Indians lead.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Perez said. “I think I got a cutter, a slider, and I was able to put it in play and got a slow dribbler, got a base hit and RBI so it was nice to get the W. We needed it as a team.”

Rays reliever Jose Alvarado then bounced ball four to the plate to walk Jake Bauers and score Santana for a 3-1 advantage.

Bieber fever – Bieber racked up the strikeouts – and pitches – Friday night but a change in approach during the game helped him keep the Rays off balance.

“They made Bieber work so hard and fortunately for us he was up to every inning, every at-bat,” Francona said. “He hung in there. It was five [innings] and it was a lot of pitches, but he only gave up the one [run] and I thought he really battled.”

It marked the third career, and second consecutive, double digit strikeout game for the young right-hander. He became the youngest Indians pitcher to record at least 10 strikeouts and allow one or fewer runs allowed in back-to-back starts since Dennis Eckersley in September 1976.

“I didn’t really have the best location tonight pretty much with three of my four pitches tonight but was able to command the curveball well enough,” Bieber said.

Bieber, who allowed four hits and walked four, worked his way out of trouble all night stranding seven baserunners, which caused him to pile up 111 pitches, 67 for strikes but going away from his fastball to off-speed stuff got him through the evening.

“I though Bieber wasn’t locating that fastball early,” Perez said. “They put up great at-bats against him and we had to change our game plan. I think he had a great breaking ball today. He hasn’t used it much the whole year but today we used it a ton and they couldn’t figure it out so why not keep throwing it.”

The only damage Tampa Bay was able to do off Bieber came in the first inning when DH Austin Meadows led off with a double and scored on right fielder Avisail Garcia’s single for a 1-0 lead.

“They put together some really good at-bats and real tough at-bats,” Bieber said. “It is a real good lineup over there and we just battled tonight and grinded through it and came out with the W.”

Equal to the task – Rays starter Blake Snell was equally impressive, and much more efficient than Bieber.

Snell went 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run on four hits. He walked three, struck out seven before departing following a two-out walk to Eric Haase that put two runners aboard, but Cleveland was unable to cash in and take the lead because Leonys Martin flew out to right to end the inning.     

Lovin’ lefties – Luplow tied it in the fourth with his sixth homer of the season, a shot over the right center field wall.

“He’s that presence that we’ve been looking for,” Francona said. “The way their guy was throwing the ball and spinning it, it was just nice to be tied. You’re at home and you’re tied. I mean, one run, it seemed like a lot.”

Luplow was surprised he was able to get a ball out of the park off Snell.

“I had no business swinging at that pitch, I’m going to be honest,” Luplow said. “I was just trying to be aggressive because when you get Because when you get two strikes with a guy like that that’s going to be a real tough at-bat.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and luckily I got ahold of one.”

All six of Luplow’s deep drives this season have come off left handers.

“Just my approach against them, I guess it works,” Luplow said. “Now if I can do that a little bit off righties that’d be nice, but I’ll get there.”

Stuck on the interstate – Jose Ramirez can’t crack .200.

Ramirez went 1-4 Friday night reaching in in the seventh on a bloop single down the right field line, but he struck out in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and one out.  

Ramirez also committed his eight error of the season in the top of the sixth when he threw low to first after fielding a bouncer off the bat of Rays shortstop Willy Adames. Luckily the miscue didn’t result in any damage as relievers Oliver Perez and Adam Cimber escaped without any further damage.

Going streaking – Jason Kipnis singled with one out in the sixth to extend his consecutive games reaching base streak to 19 games, the second-longest in the majors this season.

Walk this way – Carlos Santana walked for the 10th consecutive game when he got a free pass in the bottom of the eighth inning, the longest active streak in the majors this season. It’s also the longest free pass streak for an Indian since Victor Martinez did it in 10 straight in 2006.