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Shane Bieber struggled before extending his strike record and César Hernández hit a homer in two runs and sent the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Bieber (4-2) beat eight and has now fanned out at least as many in 20 consecutive starts, an important league mark he builds on every time. The right-dealer’s series was in jeopardy, but he got Nick Martini for strike number 8 on the seventh.
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The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner wasn’t as keen as usual, taking a career high of 121 pitch to score 6 2-3 innings.
James Karinchak finished seventh for Bieber and worked eighth. Emmanuel Clase gave up two singles in the ninth game but got Matt Duffy to step into a doubles game at the end of the game for the seventh time.
Hernández met Adbert Alzolay (1-3) in the fifth game, who played six innings against Bieber.
José Ramírez added a solo homer for the pacing Indians, who missed twice but won seven out of eight.
Eric Sogard met the Cubs who made Bieber work hard.
With his pitch count in the seventh, Bieber gave up a leadoff walk to Joc Pederson and then won a nine pitch fight with Martini to increase his record. On the strike, Bieber’s 117th place, Pederson was stolen by catcher Austin Hedges.
Hernández’s third homer gave the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Alzolay hit Andrés Giménez on the right hand with a pitch that was originally called a foul ball. Indian manager Terry Francona won a replay challenge and after Giménez stole second place, Hernández made Alzolay pay with his shot to the right.
Sogard drew 1-1 in the fifth on his first homer since August 29 when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bieber prevailed in the count, only missing out on beating Sogard with a 2-2 pitch, which referee Stu Scheurwater called the ball.
Sogard, who switched from second base to the shortstop when starter Javier Báez was torn from the starting line-up with a tense supine position, then drove a 3-2 pitch that ducked into the foul pole of the right field.
Bieber’s first pitch was an early sign that he might fight.
Pederson yanked his fastball back at 94 mph on the right-hander, who carefully caught the comebacker with an exit speed of 112 mph.
The Cubs scored one goal against Bieber in their second game and faced a big inning. But he wriggled out of a no-out jam by beating Ildemaro Vargas and getting Sogard to a double game.
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Shot in the arms
Francona said the Indians will hit the mandatory 85% vaccination threshold by Wednesday, which will allow them to simplify some of MLB’s protocols for COVID-19.
“You can retire with a mask in the dugout,” he said. “Boys can play cards on the plane as long as they wear a mask. They can eat inside. It helps when the boys get a sense of normalcy again.”
Chicago’s Kris Bryant has played five positions – third base, first and all three outer fields. And as for the Cubs, he never looked out of place once.
“He’s not complaining about it,” said outfielder Jake Marisnick. “He goes out and does it, does his job and looks good in every position I’ve seen him play. It’s special.”
Bryant was picked in the sixth for being “under the weather” according to the Cubs.
Cubs: Marisnick made the list of 10-day injuries with “light to moderate” stress on the right Achilles tendon. He is optimistic that he will be back soon. … RHP Jake Arrieta (right thumb) was supposed to host a bullpen session in Cleveland. Subject to any setbacks, he is likely to leave the IL this week.
Indian rookie LHP Sam Hentges (1-0) starts his first career after a rain on Sunday and meets Cubs RHP Zach Davies (2-2).