Shane Bieber was magnificent and Yu Chang blasted his first MLB home run as the Cleveland Indians took down the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
The Cleveland Indians gained a a half-game in the AL Central and a full game in the wild card race on Monday night with a 6-2 road victory over the Angels. Minnesota and Tampa Bay were off, while Oakland had its eighth amendment rights violated in Houston by a score of 15-0.
It was a 3-1 game in the sixth inning when Yu Chang stepped to the plate with two runners on. The rookie found himself in a 1-2 count before smoking a fastball to the opposite field for a three-run bomb that ultimately put the Angels on ice.
It was Chang’s first career home run in the majors, and an important one at that. The five-run cushion provided starter Shane Bieber with the sigh of relief he needed to get through the seventh, and also made things markedly simpler on the bullpen.
If you weren’t able to stay up for the 10:07 PM EST start, here’s what you missed.
The Most Unlikely of RBIs
Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate in the first inning with Oscar Mercado and Francisco Lindor on first and second, respectively. The end result of Puig’s plate appearance was a dribbler off the end of his bat that somehow rolled about 175 feet down the right field line, scoring Lindor.
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The Indians will take ’em any way they can get ’em, from Puig and everyone else in the lineup.
Kipnis Goes Yard
Jason Kipnis doesn’t have a right-handed platoon replacement, but even if he did, he’s been making a strong case for being in the lineup against southpaws of late. The second baseman crushed a home run to dead center field off of Angels lefty Patrick Sandoval in the second inning.
The home run gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead, and expedited Sandoval’s early exit. The Indians chased Sandoval in the fourth inning, drawing two walks, earning five hits, and plating three runs against him.
Business as Usual for Bieber
Shane Bieber tossed his 10th consecutive quality start, logging seven innings and striking out eight Angels hitters. The only pockmark on his line was a solo home run off the bat of Albert Pujols in the second inning.
The last time Bieber gave up more than three earned runs or didn’t pitch six full innings was on July 19. The last time he didn’t strike out at least six opposing hitters was June 9.
He’s probably going to miss out on the Cy Young this year thanks to Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, but he belongs firmly in the conversation.
Mercado Flashes the Leather
Elsewhere in the great nation of What Else Is New, Oscar Mercado made another highlight-reel catch in the outfield. Pujols drove a pitch to deep right center, and Mercado tracked it down just in time to make a leaping catch right in front of the wall.
It would have been an impressive play for anyone, but for a rookie navigating the outfield of a stadium he’s never played in, the degree of difficulty is probably a little higher. Mercado’s catch prevented a two-out double and ended the sixth inning, allowing Bieber to save just enough gas for the seventh.
Carrasco’s Bullpen Outing
Carlos Carrasco pitched the eighth inning for the Indians with mixed results. The first batter he faced was pinch-hitter Jared Walsh, who hit a moonshot to dead center that had jet lag by the time it landed.
Carrasco also fell behind Walsh 3-0 before getting the count to full and eventually surrendering the home run. After striking out the next hitter, Brian Goodwin, Carrasco gave up a softly-hit single to David Fletcher.
He got Shohei Ohtani to fly out, then ended the inning by ringing up Justin Upton. The Indians could have done without the home run, but it was encouraging to see Carrasco gather his bearings and prevent any further damage.
The Tribe will be back at it at the same time in the same location on Tuesday night, but unfortunately not on the same broadcast. Tuesday’s tilt will inexplicably only be available for viewing on YouTube.