Given this game, you may not know that the Minnesota Twins are one of the deadliest infractions in basketball.
Given that image, you may not know that Josh Donaldson is a former MVP who is still very much in the tank.
Shane Bieber, a humble hybrid, made everyone on the Twins hunt look lost on the plate, and a few, like our dear friend Josh Donaldson, seem foolish.
If there’s anyone on Earth who doesn’t know about Bieber, he sure does. The 25-year-old moderate put his name on the map during last year’s All-Star game, and his last two performances have made it impossible not to consider him a Cy Young candidate.
It followed his stellar debut against the Royals with an even better performance against an ever-improving rival: tonight 8.0 IP, 13 SO, 0 BB, 3 H.
Nor is it that Bieber did anything new. His four-seam basketball was so well placed and his curve ball (classified as a trick curve by Baseball Savant) kept the Twins off the balance enough that they couldn’t figure it out.
First, the formula was simple: pull forward with a quick ball, then throw a few curves or anything until they move away with their heads down. When you can use your fastball to paint the edges like that (note that there are three throws in this chart), it really doesn’t matter what you do.
In the fifth put, the twins thought they had baptized Bieber and started attacking their rapids sooner. No problem: he changed it and went for heavier curve balls at the beginning of the count. Nineteen of his 34 curves came from the fifth inning forward and five from the first on the field of play. Only four in total were put into play throughout the game.
With another outstanding start under his belt, Bieber tied the Major League Basketball record for attacks through the first two starts of a season. He overtook Nolan Ryan in the same category and is now on the mountain with Karl Spooner.
The Dodgers’ first starter in 1954, Karl Spooner, also scored 27 batters in his first two starts. Unfortunately, these were the only attacks – and it started – he had that year and was out of basketball a little over a year later. Bieber is on track to have a little more luck than the Ole Spooner.
Tonight Twitter was very affected with Shane Bieber’s posts, but this is my favorite:
Shane Bieber has faced 50 batters in two starts this season. He has taken 27, walking only 1.
That is, 54 K% and 2 BB%.
Bieber has a FIP -0.36. He has not been allowed to run.
– Devan Fink (@DevanFink) July 31, 2020
He has a negative FIP. IT HAS A NEGATIVE TYPE. Amazing.
We can celebrate Bieber’s performance tonight thanks in part to Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez. Without the latter being made at the base and before hitting a ball 409 feet from Target Field to give the Indians their only runs, we could head to the twelfth inning so far. Or worse, they have already lost thanks to the new rule of extra-innings.
Luckily, with the lead in hand, Terry Francona headed to James Karinchak to close out the game, and he did so with similar efficiency to Bieber. The three rapids, three curves and an offense of Twins who were only willing to go home got their wish.