Right-hander Mike Clevinger will try to extend Cleveland's franchise-record, starting-pitching streak on Friday night when the Indians face the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
Cleveland's rotation has compiled a 5-0 record with a 1.53 ERA in the first seven games of the season. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Indians starters have gone six or more innings in each of those contests while allowing two or fewer runs, a franchise record.
Clevinger (0-0, 2.57 ERA) gave up first-inning solo home runs to the Kansas City Royals' Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez in his first start on Saturday, a game the Indians lost 3-2 in 10 innings. He allowed four hits and two runs over seven innings while striking out six.
Clevinger is 4-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 appearances (11 starts) against the Twins and has pitched well at Target Field, compiling a 2-1 record and 3.60 ERA in six games (five starts).
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Randy Dobnak (0-1, 2.25 ERA), who will make his second start in place of injured Jake Odorizzi (upper back soreness). Dobnak, who had an 0-1 record and 2.45 ERA in three games, two starts, against Cleveland last season, took the loss in a 10-3 setback to the White Sox in Chicago on Saturday but pitched well, allowing just one run on three hits over four innings. He walked two and struck out three.
Cleveland won the first game of the four-game series on Thursday night, 2-0, behind another record-setting performance by Shane Bieber.
Bieber, who set an Opening Day franchise record with 14 strikeouts while tossing six shutout innings in a 2-0 victory over Kansas City on July 24, followed that up by holding the Twins to just three singles over eight innings while striking out 13. The 27 strikeouts in his first two starts of the season tied the modern day (since 1901) major league record set by Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.
"All of them," catcher Sandy Leon said, according to Cleveland.com, when asked what was Bieber's best pitch. "He was throwing all four pitches for strikes whenever he wanted. That was fun."
Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "He was definitely on top of his game. I think anyone paying attention can see that. He was very sharp. He's one of the best young pitchers in the game."
Bieber said he felt Thursday night's victory was crucial against the defending American League Central champion Twins.
"We know how important this series is," Bieber said. "Coming out there and doing what we did tonight set the tone for the series. I feel like the clubhouse is definitely hopping, as much it can with all the protocols. We're enjoying it."
Cleveland got all the runs it would need in the third inning when Francisco Lindor blasted a 409-foot, two-run homer into the right field bleachers off Minnesota ace Jose Berrios. It was the second home run in the past three games for Lindor.
"I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it," Lindor said. "I'm happy it went out. Berrios has struck me out a lot of times."
Berrios said, "They got me on one pitch. Lindor hit a homer. But other than that, I tried to control the damage."
--Field Level Media