Cleveland Indians at New York Mets
When and Where: Tuesday, Aug. 20, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., 7:10 p.m. EDT.
Shane Bieber looks to extend his run of quality outings and win a fifth consecutive road start Tuesday night when the Cleveland Indians begin a three-game series against the New York Mets in a clash of interleague wild-card hopefuls.
Bieber looks to keep Tribe in thick of AL Central race while leading wild-card chase
The Indians (74-51) began play this week 2 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central but also atop the AL wild-card race, 2 1/2 games better than the third-place Oakland Athletics.
Terry Francona’s team is on the back end of its New York road trip after splitting a four-game series with the Yankees. Cleveland salvaged the split with an 8-4 victory Sunday when Mike Freeman‘s three-run homer powered a four-run second to send the Indians on their way.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 18, 2019
Bieber (12-5, 3,27 ERA) will try to keep the good times going in a different borough as he takes the ball for this series opener. The right-hander has posted a 1.89 ERA over his last five starts, winning three of them, but a lack of run support cost him chances to win the other two.
He took the loss Wednesday against Boston as a pair of solo homers in seven innings were enough to consign him to a 5-1 defeat that spoiled the accomplishment of reaching 200 strikeouts for the season. The long ball has been Bieber’s lone issue during his quality run, with six of the eight runs over 38 innings scoring on solo homers.
“He woke up feeling sick. He was nauseous the entire game and he gave us six,” Francona told the Indians’ official website. “I mean, there was a chance after the second inning that he was gonna come out of that game and he stayed out there for six innings and gave us a chance to win. That was impressive.”
Bieber, who is facing the Mets for the first time has been a dominant road pitcher since breaking into the major last year and is 15-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 22 starts outside Cleveland. The righty has a 1.13 ERA during his current four-start winning streak on the road, conceding four runs while striking out 40 in 32 innings and holding opponents to a .138 batting average.
Matz looking to stay unbeaten at home as Mets open make-or-break homestand
If Bieber is the irresistible force on the road, then it can be argued Steven Matz (7-7, 4.33) is the immovable object at home for the Mets (64-60), whose playoff hopes will likely be determined during this nine-game homestand that also includes series against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.
The Mets began play Monday two games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot and 3 1/2 games back of the Washington Nationals for the first.
Matz is 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA in nine starts at Citi Field this season, striking out 58 in 53 2-3 innings and giving up more than two runs just twice. The left-hander, though, is 0-4 with a 6.56 ERA in his last seven starts versus AL opponents since tossing seven three-hit innings in a 6-0 win at Cleveland in 2016.
He had nothing to show for a solid outing Wednesday at Atlanta, holding the Braves to one run in six innings and was surprisingly lifted by manager Mickey Callaway after retiring the final 14 batters he faced and throwing 79 pitches.
The Mets put him in a position by rallying for two runs in the seventh, but the bullpen promptly gave up five runs in the bottom half of the inning of a 6-4 defeat. Matz refused to get drawn into a debate about his manager’s decision, telling the club’s official website, ““I felt pretty good, but ultimately, (Seth) Lugo’s been really good all year. That was the manager’s call.”
New York capped split its six-game road swing through Atlanta and Kansas City after taking the final two games of a three-game set versus the Royals. The top four hitters in the lineup — Amed Rosario, Joe Panik, Pete Alonso, and Michael Conforto — were a combined 11 for 18 with nine RBIs to power the Mets to an 11-6 victory Sunday.
Someone wise once told me: “Don’t put limits on yourself.” Today waking up was surreal. Hard work works. No one has to agree with your method to the madness. If you give your mind and heart to your dreams, they just might come true. #LFGM
— Pete Alonso (@Pete_Alonso20) August 19, 2019
Alonso cracked his 40th homer, an NL rookie record for homers that also moved him one shy of the franchise record established by Todd Hundley in 1996 and equaled by Carlos Beltran in 2006. The rookie, who also has set the club rookie record for RBIs (95), is just the fourth player in franchise history to reach the 40-homer mark, also done by Mike Piazza in 1999.
The Indians are:
- 7-2 in Bieber’s last nine road starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 20-8 in their last 28 games vs. left-handed starters.
- 7-1 in their last eight interleague road games.
The Mets are:
- 1-4 in Matz’s last five interleague starts.
- 5-12 in Matz’s last 17 home starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 1-5 in Matz’s last six starts vs. above-.500 teams.