Game #12 Observations: Reyes' 8th Inning HR Breaks Losing Streak, Indians Top Reds 4-2 to Move to 6-6
The Cleveland Indians six-game road swing through Minnesota and Cincinnati wrapped up just like it started - with a win.
The formula was exactly the same as game one, as Shane Bieber pitched into the eighth inning, allowing his first two runs of the season but still pitching at a high level as he held his own in moving to 3-0 on the year.
“I want to go as long as possible, give our team a chance to capitalize on the game as possible,” Bieber said.
“I was definitely stoked to go back out for the eighth, it’s easy to hand off the ball to a guy like (reliever James) Karinchak.”
Beiber’s strong outing would not have meant anything if not for the bat of Franmil Reyes, who slammed a two-run homer to center to put the Indians up for good 4-2 in the eighth inning.
For Reyes, it was important for him to finally get on track, and it all came on a day when he was supposed to have a day off according to acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr.
For now the club is 6-6, and they will be back at home Wednesday evening for the first at two against the Reds.
Here’s some observations on the big win which puts the team back to .500 on the season.
Bieber Just Keeps on Rolling
Indians ace Shane Bieber allowed a pair of solo homers, but that was it as he went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and eight K’s.
Alomar allowed him to come back out in the 8th after the Indians took a 4-2 lead, something that meant a lot to Bieber.
“While all that is nice, it’s really about all we are trying to do here as a team,” Bieber said.
“We were able to right the ship a little bit today, and that was a fun way to do it with Franmil coming up huge late in the game, I know we were frustrated as a team early on in the game, but we stayed strong and pulled together in the end.”
Consider that Bieber is truly becoming a road warrior for the Indians, as he moved to 18-5 in 28 road starts over the last three seasons.
In those games his ERA is just 2.96, and his winning percentage of .783, the best in team history after 28 starts for any pitcher in Indians history.
The eight strikeouts puts Bieber at 35 K’s already in three starts. That number is good for third all-time in the Majors, behind Nolan Ryan (37 K’s in 1973), and Gerrit Cole (36 K’s in 2018).
Alomar also was impressed with the Tribe ace after he went 7.2 very good innings.
“Other than a couple of mistakes he was awesome,” Alomar said.
“He kept us in the game, he settled down and was able to keep us in the game and our offense came through.”
Bieber is set to be back on the mound Sunday against the White Sox in Chicago.
A Welcome Sight at the Plate
They managed just four runs on three hits with an error, but let’s face it, the moment that Franmil Reyes’ homer went out in center field it was like a huge weight off the shoulders of the Indians as a whole.
They and just as much Franmil needed it in a big way, and it coming at a point in the game where it meant what it did means just that much more.
Even the team’s ace on the mound was happy with the way the offense was able to come through in the clutch.
“I don’t like facing our lineup, it’s not something I would be excited about,” Bieber said.
“Some guys may be frustrated, but as long as we keep at it, and keep working hard, things are going to happen. There was a ton of really good at-bats late in the game, I’m excited for the direction we are going in.”
Reyes, who had 37 homers last season between the San Diego Padres and Indians, is now on the board with his first, a key at-bat that couldn’t have come at a bigger time in the game.
“It’s been a tough couple of days, but I keep trusting myself,” Reyes said.
“All day we had good energy that my teammates gave me, they don’t let me put my head down, they motivate me to be my best.”
Reyes said it was encouragement by pitcher Carlos Carrasco who gave him a lift when he came to the plate in the eighth inning.
“Cookie right before that at-bat was like “you can do this, you can hit it out of the park,” I said “Cookie let me get a base hit first,” and he was like “no, you can hit it, let’s go,” things like that,” Reyes said.
Alomar said after the game that if it were up to him, Reyes would have not seen any at-bats on Tuesday night, as he was ready to give the slugger the day off Reyes talked him into allowing him to play.
“He almost didn’t play today, he convinced me yesterday, I was trying to give him an off day to work on some things but he was very adamant about “no I want to play,” so I’m glad he did, he came up big,” Alomar said.
The team still struck out 10 times but drew six walks to go along with their three hits, and got creative in the 7th inning when they scored the two runs to tie up the game.
“We had better at-bats, we had a lot of 3-2 counts, a few walks, hit by pitch, they were going deep into counts, which shows a better approach,” Alomar said.
The 1-2 Combo Comes Through
After the Tribe took a 4-2 lead in the 8th, Bieber came out and got the two outs to set up reliever James Karinchak to come in and get one very important out.
That out was the Reds best hitter, Nick Castellanos, who had homered in the first inning against Bieber, so there was no way he was going to get a fourth shot against the Indians ace.
Karinchak went right to work, throwing two breaking balls for strikes, and then after he nibbled at the plate, he went back to the breaking ball to freeze Castellanos for strike three.
“The breaking ball was right on point, he did a fantastic job,” Alomar said.
While it could have been easy to stick with Karinchak who has the hot hand, the team went to the guy who has been their closer the last two years, Brad Hand.
It’s the first time since the blowup against the Sox that Hand was able to take the mound, and he really needed a 1-2-3 outing - and got it.
“I guess all that rest he had was good, he came out and was throwing strikes, he had a very good velo, 93-94 (miles per hour), was really pleased, a 1-2-3 inning,” Alomar said.
Hand’s velocity has been in question since the opener, but Tuesday was the best that he had pitched all year, and it was a welcome sight that Indians fans would love to see more often.
“Just getting ahead, being aggressive, not trying to be too perfect” Hand said. “Just trusting my stuff and attacking them.”
The ability for the Indians to use Karinchak and Hand in a 1-2 combo type of role is great for the team, and it’s even better when a situation like Tuesday night plays out like it did.