CLEVELAND (AP) — Shane Bieber has made believers out of the Cleveland Indians. In return, they plan on making him a fan of the Grammy-winning singer with his surname.
The rookie right-hander walked onto the field with “Baby” by Justin Bieber blaring on the sound system, and then struck out nine in a career-high seven innings as Cleveland rolled to a 10-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Bieber (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third major league start. He jokingly dedicated the performance to shortstop Francisco Lindor, who sang along with the pregame music selected by staff ace Corey Kluber.
“I was laughing because Frankie was near the mound, singing along, making fun of me,” the 23-year-old said Bieber said with a smile. “I thought it was him who picked it because he was enjoying it so much, but I found out it was one of the starting five.
“Being able to laugh something off early kind of helps, but you still have a job to do, to go out and be serious and try to execute a game plan.”
Bieber became the third Indians pitcher with six or more strikeouts in his first three big league appearances, joining Herb Score (eight in 1955) and Luis Tiant (three in 1964). His ERA is a tidy 2.45 through 18 1/3 innings.
Yonder Alonso hit a seventh-inning grand slam, and Edwin Encarnacion and Lindor also went deep for the Indians, who lead second-place Detroit by six games in the AL Central. Encarnacion finished with two hits and three RBIs.
“Shane is obviously fun to play behind because he works fast and he knows how to execute pitches,” said Alonso, who went 2 for 4 with his second slam of the season. “The best thing I see is he’s always moving out there, attacking the hitters.”
Zach McAllister and George Kontos each got three outs to finish the five-hitter for Cleveland’s eighth shutout of 2018. The Indians are 5-0 against the Tigers at Progressive Field this year, outscoring them by a 28-5 margin.
Detroit right-hander Mike Fiers (5-4) surrendered four runs in five innings, including a two-run homer by Encarnacion and a solo shot by Lindor. He has one victory in his last seven starts.
“Their lineup is great from 1-through-9, so those two home runs kind of sealed the deal for them,” Fiers said. “And hat’s off to (Bieber). No one has seen that guy, but he threw the ball great. He was awesome.”
Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez reached base for the 29th straight game, walking in his first four plate appearances and scoring twice.
The Tigers have dropped three in a row and fell to 2-4 on their eight-game road trip. The first pitch was delayed 1 hour, 41 minutes due to rain.
Bradley Zimmer, who opened the season as Cleveland’s starting center fielder, will miss four to six weeks with an inflamed right shoulder. Zimmer was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on June 5 to work on his swing after hitting .226 in 32 games in the majors.
“We know he’s a tough kid and all that, but it’s going to be a little while until he’s back,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s going to be OK, but he’s missing out on the at-bats we really want him to get.”
Tigers: RHP Johnny Barbato (sore arm) gave up Alonso’s grand slam and was placed on the disabled list. Detroit also optioned 3B Ronny Rodriguez to Triple-A Toledo and recalled RHP Artie Lewicki.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (bruised right elbow), who was struck by a line drive from Minnesota’s Joe Mauer on June 16, is still experiencing swelling but could throw a bullpen session next week.
Tigers LHP Francisco Liriano (3-2, 3.90 ERA) will be activated off the DL to take on Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (6-5, 2.50 ERA). Liriano suffered a strained right hamstring against the White Sox on May 26 and will be restricted to 75-80 pitches in his return.