Bieber sets K record, fans 13 as Indians beat Reds 6-3

© Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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CINCINNATI — If Shane Bieber felt a bit off at the start, it sure didn’t show.

Bieber kept up his record strikeout run, fanning 13 and pitching the Cleveland Indians past the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 on Sunday.

Bieber (2-1) became the first pitcher in big league history to begin the season with four straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts.

The AL Cy Young Award winner has 48 strikeouts this year, matching Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for the most through the first four starts of a season. Bieber has fanned at least eight in a 16 straight starts, one short of Randy Johnson’s major league mark.

“I felt a little slow, a little sluggish at the beginning of the game but was able to get through it and kind of get on a roll there at the end,” Bieber said.

Bieber struck out the side in the seventh. He wrapped up his outing by fanning three more in the eighth around a solo home run by former teammate Tyler Naquin.

After being routed on Friday night and then losing in the 10th inning Saturday when an error with two outs in the ninth allowed the Reds to extend the game, Cleveland manager Terry Francona was happy to be able to give the ball to Bieber on Sunday.

“That’s why you call guys aces. And he certainly has lived up to that,” Francona said. “He’s really accountable for what he needs to do. It’s nice, you got a tough night like you had last night, and you see him running out to the bullpen. That makes you feel a little better.”

Bieber allowed three runs and six hits with two walks.

“He’s the complete package as a pitcher,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He has it all. He deserves all the credit today. We got a few runs off him but not enough.”

Emmanuel Clase struck out the side in the ninth, again hitting 100 mph with his heater.

The Indians hit three home runs, all with two outs, to salvage a win in the all-Ohio series.

Roberto Perez hit a three-run homer off Wade Miley (2-1) over the center field wall with two on in the fourth inning for a 4-0 lead.

Jose Ramirez launched a solo drive into the upper deck in the first. Jordan Luplow had a two-run homer in the seventh.

Wade Miley (2-1) took the loss for the Reds, lasting five innings and striking out five.

QUOTABLE

“We had some good at bats against (Bieber), but he got out of trouble by making really good pitches,” Reds left fielder Jesse Winker said. “My last at-bat against him (in the seventh inning), he made some unbelievable pitches. He’s a Cy Young winner for sure.”

JOLTIN’ JOEY

Joey Votto had three hits, including a two-run double in the Reds fifth. Votto was 7 for 11 in the weekend series, hitting a homer on Friday night and starting a triple play in the Reds’ come-from-behind win on Saturday. He raised his batting average to .267.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds 3B Mike Moustakas missed his third straight game with a non-COVID illness. Kyle Farmer started in his place. OF Shogo Akiyama (hamstring) is back with the team, but it not expected to play until at least May.

UP NEXT

Indians: After an off day, open a nine-game homestand Tuesday with a pair against the White Sox. The teams split a four-game series last week in Chicago. Cleveland sends RHP Zach Plesac against LHP Carlos Rodon, who threw a no-hitter against them in an 8-0 White Sox win Wednesday.

Reds: After an off day, RHP Luis Castillo (1-1) will be on the mound Tuesday night to open a three-game home series with Arizona. RHP Zac Gallen (0-0) starts for the Diamondbacks, who took two out of three from the Reds in a series earlier this month in Phoenix. Castillo struck out seven in a no-decision on Tuesday. Coming off the disabled list, Gallen struck out eight over four innings in Tuesday’s loss to the A’s.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.