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Guardians turn to Shane Bieber to get back on winning track

Sportsnaut
Jun 25, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Shane Bieber (57) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After exploring several possible deals at Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Cleveland Guardians ultimately decided to remain on course.

The Guardians look to continue their upward trend when they face the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks in the rubber match of a three-game interleague series on Wednesday.

Cleveland’s only deal on Tuesday’s trade deadline was a small one, with veteran catcher Sandy Leon going to the Minnesota Twins for right-handed relief pitcher Ian Hamilton.

“I like the direction,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “Are we the finished product? No, we know that. But in the meantime, we’re competing like hell and trying to answer some questions.”

Cleveland has won five of its past eight games and trails American League Central leader Minnesota by one game.

Guardians rookie left fielder Steven Kwan is batting .361 (26-for-72) with 15 runs during a 16-game hitting streak. Kwan’s streak is the longest by a Cleveland rookie since Michael Brantley hit in 19 straight in 2010.

The Guardians lost 6-3 on Tuesday due in part to Arizona first baseman Christian Walker hitting a three-run homer for the second game in a row.

The Diamondbacks are expected to summon left-hander Tommy Henry from Triple-A Reno to make his major league debut on Wednesday.

Henry, 25, is 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA and 100 strikeouts across 108 innings in 20 starts for the Aces this season.

A second-round draft pick by the Diamondbacks in 2019, Henry has appeared in 46 minor league games, including 23 starts for Double-A Amarillo last season.

“I try to come at you from pitch one,” Henry said. “I’m not really saving anything for later innings. I’m going to use everything to get you out when I can. And sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s my approach.”

Cleveland will send right-hander Shane Bieber (5-6, 3.41 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. He bounced back from a shaky first inning and allowed only one run over seven frames in a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Bieber, 27, has struggled with his consistency this season, but he yielded just five hits and two walks while striking out eight in the win over Tampa Bay.

Bieber posted a 2-2 record and a 4.23 ERA in four starts covering 27 2/3 innings last month. He will be making his first career appearance against the Diamondbacks.

Arizona, which snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday, traded outfielder David Peralta to Tampa Bay and right-hander Luke Weaver to the Kansas City Royals ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

For the most part, though, the Diamondbacks were content to stand pat.

“This is our group, this is our gang, for the next two months,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I’m excited to see what they can do.”

The team’s roster features a mix of young players and veterans such as reliever Ian Kennedy, who struck out the side in the ninth inning on Tuesday for his fifth save.

“It’s nice to have certain guys that will be here and will stick around to be able to stand on the mound in the ninth inning and execute the way Ian did,” Lovullo said. “It’s a big ask for a young guy. Those younger guys will get there. It’s just right now I think there’s a good mixture of guys that are going to bring along some of those youngsters.”

–Field Level Media