CLEVELAND, Ohio — On Sunday, the Indians played their 62nd game of the 2021 regular season. If this was 2020, they would have been packing their bags and headed home. Last year, the year of the pandemic, the Indians played 60 regular season games for the right to get swept in the best-of-three wild-card series by the Yankees.
It wasn’t called the 60-game sprint for nothing.
Shane Bieber made 12 starts last year and went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA. He won MLB’s unofficial Triple Crown award for pitchers, leading the big leagues in wins (tied with Yu Darvish), strikeouts (122) and ERA. Then he won the official AL Cy Young award by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Bieber made his 14th start Sunday, losing to the Mariners, 6-2. It was an un-Bieber-like performance as he allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The five runs and 10 hits were the most he’s allowed in a start this season. The two homers Seattle hit against him equaled a season high.
To add another layer, Bieber hasn’t allowed five earned runs in a game since July 19, 2019 against the Royals. The last time he allowed 10 hits in a game was Sept. 25, 2019 against the White Sox.
Perhaps what is happening right now to Bieber and a lot of other players is just an undulation in the first 162-game season since…