MINNEAPOLIS – Cleveland's Shane Bieber tied the major league record for strikeouts in a pitcher's first two starts of the season, punching out 13 Minnesota Twins over eight innings in the Indians' 2-0 victory on Thursday night.
Bieber (2-0) fanned 14 over six scoreless innings on Friday against Kansas City. His 27 strikeouts in the two games matched the record set by Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in September 1954 during the first two starts of his short career.
“I've never been that much of a punch-out pitcher, especially coming up through the minors. The book on me was pitch to contact, this and that. I’ve made some adjustments the past couple years and started to see some swings and misses,” Bieber said.
Facing a Twins team that came in with the second-best run differential in baseball, Bieber allowed three singles in his eight innings.
Cleveland's staff has been striking out hitters in bunches, part of a trend early in this pandemic-shortened season in which hitters are striking out more than ever and batting averages are plummeting. The Indians (5-2) have had four starts with 10 or more strikeouts. Their pitchers have also gone six-plus innings in every game — a solid formula for any season, but especially in a 60-game sprint.
“Obviously we’re trying to put up zeroes and get the ‘W’ first and foremost,” Bieber said. "But if you get some strikeouts while you’re at it, that’s always fun too.”
Francisco Lindor supplied all the offense Cleveland needed with a two-run homer in the third inning off Jose Berríos (0-1). After Jose Ramirez singled with two outs, Berríos left an 0-2 pitch up over the plate, and Lindor drove it over the fence in right for his second homer of the season.
“He got me,” Berríos said.