Shane Bieber struck out 14 batters to set an Opening Day franchise record and lift the host Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Bieber (1-0), who was last year’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, scattered four hits over six innings before exiting after 97 pitches. His strikeout total eclipsed the Opening Day club record of Gary Bell, who fanned 12 against Detroit on April 19, 1960.
Oscar Mercado had a run-scoring single and Cesar Hernandez followed with an RBI double during a two-run fifth inning for the Indians, who won 12 of the 19 meetings against their American League Central rival in 2019.
Danny Duffy (0-1) retired nine in a row at one point before running into trouble in the fifth inning for the Royals, who fell short in the debut of first-year manager Mike Matheny.
Bieber struck out the side in the second and fourth innings and stranded Nicky Lopez at third base after fanning Adalberto Mondesi to end the fifth. Bieber struck out his final two batters in the sixth inning and two relievers bridged the gap to Brad Hand, who retired the side in the ninth for his first save.
Cleveland found its offense in the fifth inning, with Jordan Luplow reaching base after being hit by a pitch from Duffy. Luplow scampered to third base after Roberto Perez singled sharply to center for the Indians’ first hit since the second inning.
Duffy departed in favor of Scott Barlow, who served up Mercado’s bouncer to left-center field that plated Luplow to open the scoring. Hernandez followed suit by driving in Perez with a double down the third-base line.
Both runs were charged to Duffy, who took the hard-luck loss during his third career Opening Day start. He permitted two runs on three hits to fall to 3-12 in his career against the Indians.
Francisco Lindor told Cleveland.com that the team wore its road blue jerseys — which feature the block letters “Cleveland” across the chest — as a means to bring awareness to the franchise discussing a potential change to its nickname. The team’s home white jerseys feature the word “Indians” in block letters.
–Field Level Media