Bieber wins again as Guardians beat White Sox 4-2 for sweep

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO – Shane Bieber pitched two-run ball into the eighth inning, and the Cleveland Guardians beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 on Thursday night for a three-game series sweep.

Cleveland opened a seven-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central with its 15th win in 18 games. The Guardians (83-67) can clinch the franchise’s first division title since 2018 as early as Sunday.

Bieber (12-8) earned his fourth straight win. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked none in 7 2/3 innings.

“Like a lot of good pitchers, he kind of worked into finding his stuff,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He kind of pitched himself into looking like Bieber, which is pretty impressive.”

Trevor Stephan finished the eighth and Emmanuel Clase handled the ninth for his AL-best 37th save in 41 chances.

Cleveland’s pitching staff issued just one walk in the three-game set.

“We’re a confident bunch and we’re having a lot of fun doing it,” Bieber said.

Gavin Sheets homered for Chicago in the eighth. Johnny Cueto (7-9) allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits in six innings in his third straight loss.

Chicago isn’t out of it yet, but it needs lots of wins – and help – down the stretch.

“(The season) doesn’t come down to three games but we knew what we had to do this series and we weren’t able to do it. It’s frustrating,” Sheets said. “It’s not just this series; we had to play better all season.”

The White Sox (76-74) have dropped three straight and four of six overall.

Cleveland went ahead to stay on Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly in the third. Steven Kwan hit an RBI triple in the fifth and scored on another Ramirez sacrifice fly, giving the Guardians a 4-1 lead.

The White Sox, who started September with an 8-2 streak but failed to make up much ground on the streaking Guardians, got a run in the first on Eloy Jimenez‘s RBI single.

BAD THROW

The Guardians’ second run was set up by a Cueto pickoff attempt that bounced in front of first baseman Jose Abreu‘s glove in the third. The ball rolled to the dugout fence and allowed Amed Rosario to dash from first to third. He came home a pitch later on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (broken finger) could get a start or two before the end of the season, but Francona said it only will happen if Plesac is ready. He has been out since Aug. 30.

UP NEXT

Guardians: Cody Morris (0-2, 2.30 ERA) faces Texas right-hander Jon Gray (7-7, 3.80 ERA) on Friday night.

White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (10-9, 5.07 ERA) goes against Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-5, 4.35 ERA) on Friday night.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.