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Apr 2, 2024 9:51 am

Shane Bieber, Guardians look to even series vs. Mariners

Shane Bieber

Stephen Vogt’s first season as a major-league manager could be made much easier with a healthy Shane Bieber.

Bieber, who is scheduled to start for the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night in Seattle, proved that on Opening Day last week against Oakland.

Bieber, the American League’s 2020 Cy Young Award winner who missed two months last season with right elbow inflammation, pitched six scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory Thursday against the host Athletics. Bieber allowed four hits, walked one and fanned 11 to give Vogt his first victory.

“It felt awesome,” Vogt said. “When you put up a crooked number early (five runs in the fourth inning) and Shane Bieber does what he does — it was nice to have one like that.”

According to MLB.com, Bieber became the sixth pitcher in history to record at least 10 strikeouts in three or more Opening Day starts, joining Randy Johnson (four), Bob Gibson (three), Pedro Martinez (three), Felix Hernandez (three) and Max Scherzer (three).

Bieber’s velocity in the opener was back to pre-2023 levels in the 93 mph range. He also returned to a changeup he pretty much eschewed the past couple of seasons.

“The whole world knows who Shane Bieber is,” Guardians catcher Austin Hedges said. “He just made that adjustment that now the league is going to have to readjust to him.

“It’s just funny because we’re not overdoing the curveball anymore. We’re not overdoing the slider. He has some velo and some ride to the fastball now. We’re just pitching. We’re just waiting for the hitter to tell us what to throw.”

Bieber (1-0, 0.00 ERA) said he gave up on the changeup because he was fixated on throwing it slower. Now, he’s just relying on the movement with that pitch.

“Felt great,” Bieber said of his initial outing of the season. “A lot of hard work on display, and continue to keep my head down and do what I always do, and we’ll see where we end up.”

Bieber, who is 1-2 with a 2.68 ERA in six career starts against Seattle, will be opposed by Mariners right-hander Luis Castillo (0-1, 7.20), who is 1-3 with a 4.21 ERA in seven starts versus Cleveland.

Castillo lost 6-4 to visiting Boston last Thursday, when he allowed four runs on six hits over five innings.

“Some of the pitches didn’t go where I wanted them to go,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “And those were the situations that got us. … When something like that happens, all I can do is just keep attacking.”

The Mariners won the series opener Monday 5-4 as Dominic Canzone, a Cleveland native, hit a three-run homer in a four-run second inning and rookie Emerson Hancock earned his first MLB victory. Ryne Stanek worked the ninth for his first save with Seattle.

Josh Naylor and Tyler Freeman went deep for Cleveland.

“Nice to see our guys bounce back,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose team lost 5-1 Sunday to the Red Sox. “We’ve still got a ways to go offensively, but we’re moving in the right direction. Much better game (Monday).”

–Field Level Media

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