With season on line, Guardians turn to Shane Bieber vs. O’s

Field Level Media

September 22, 2023 at 6:41 am.

The Cleveland Guardians will turn to a familiar face in a bid to stave off being eliminated from postseason contention for at least one more day.

The Guardians are expected to activate right-hander Shane Bieber from the 60-day injured list as they prepare to face the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Friday in the second contest of a four-game series.

Bieber (5-6, 3.77 ERA) will be making his first start since July 9, just six days before he was placed on the 15-day IL due to elbow inflammation in his pitching arm. He was then transferred to the 60-day IL on July 24.

Bieber, 28, is expected to toss about 80 pitches on Friday after throwing 64 in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday. He is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in five career starts against Baltimore.

The Guardians (73-81) kept their faint postseason aspirations alive by posting a 5-2 victory over the Orioles on Thursday in the opener of the series. Cleveland snapped a tie by scoring three runs in the eighth inning, with all three charged to reliever Cionel Perez.

“We had a popup and kind of an 18-hopper towards first base in the eighth, but we also didn’t chase anything,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “Perez had a real good, I don’t know if it’s a split or changeup, but we didn’t chase it.”

Jose Ramirez reached base in his first three plate appearances on Thursday. He is batting .357 (20 for-56) over his last 14 games, hitting safely in 12 of them.

Josh Naylor is 21-for-62 (.339) with 15 RBIs and nine runs in 17 games since returning from the 10-day IL on Sept. 3.

Even with Ramirez and Naylor riding hot streaks, Cleveland will be eliminated from postseason contention following either its next loss or a win by the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

AL East-leading Baltimore (95-58) has dropped two games in a row to see its advantage over second-place Tampa Bay dip to 1 1/2 games. The Rays recorded a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.

Adley Rutschman collected three of his team’s seven hits in the series opener for the Orioles.

Ryan O’Hearn ripped an RBI double with two outs in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to six games.

Baltimore, however, went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

“Disappointed in our bats, honestly, early in the game,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just thought we made some quick outs, and we normally don’t. We didn’t really work the count very well. It became a bullpen game, which is not easy, and they have a good bullpen.”

Baltimore will turn to right-hander Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.17) to make the start on Friday.

Kremer, 27, recorded his fourth straight no-decision on Sunday despite allowing just one run on two hits in five innings against Tampa Bay.

He is 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in two career starts versus Cleveland.