CLEVELAND (AP) — Shane Bieber knows he will never be as famous as the singer with his surname. He doesn’t even mind that his latest Topps baseball card refers to him as Justin.
Bieber was content becoming the first pitcher this season to throw three complete games, leading the Cleveland Indians over the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 on Sunday with a five-hitter that finished a three-game sweep.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because there is obviously a lot of work to be done, but I’ve strung a couple of good outings together,” the 24-year-old right-hander said. “It’s a lot of fun to be out there playing and giving these guys a chance to win. I know we’re going to put up runs and we’re going to have some fun doing it.”
Bieber (11-4) struck out eight and walked none, reaching 300 career strikeouts in his 44th big league appearance. The All-Star Game MVP threw 76 of 107 pitches for strikes and is 9-2 with 128 strikeouts in his last 15 starts.
Cleveland is 37-15 since June 4 — the best record in the majors in that span — and Bieber has taken over as ace from the injured Corey Kluber and the since-traded Trevor Bauer.
“You can go back six or seven years and see everything I said about Kluber, then put Bieber’s name in there and it would be true,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You know how we feel about Kluber and his work ethic, so to put Justin in there with him, I meant it as a huge compliment.”
Jason Kipnis homered and drove in three runs, Francisco Lindor had two RBIs and a homer, and rookie Oscar Mercado added a third solo shot for Cleveland, which is three games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota.
Cleveland outscored Los Angeles 19-7 in the sweep, sending the Angels to their 15th loss in their last 16 contests at Progressive Field.
“We did have some long innings, so I had to go down in the tunnel and throw a little to keep loose, but that’s always a good problem to have,” said Bieber, who posted a photo of his misidentified Topps Stadium Club card on social media.
Kole Calhoun homered and Albert Pujols had an RBI single for Los Angeles, which lost its fourth straight and fell below .500 for the first time since July 7. Mike Trout doubled to become the sixth player with 275 home runs and 250 doubles before age 28.
“We’re in a rough patch right now, we know that,” Calhoun said. “We need a little something to go our way and get back on the winning side of things and get this ball back rolling.”
Angels starter Jaime Barria (4-5) gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings, all on homers to center field. The righty delayed play for five minutes in the second while having his sore right big toe taped.
Right-hander Luke Bard, recalled by Los Angeles before the game, exited with a bruised right triceps after being struck by a Carlos Santana line drive in the fifth. The ball landed just short of the outfield grass near shortstop.
Indians designated hitter Franmil Reyes struck out in all four plate appearances, breaking the bat over his right leg following his third whiff.
Bard’s flight from Salt Lake City arrived in Cleveland at 6:30 a.m. and he slept a couple of hours at the team hotel before going to the ballpark. His outing lasted two batters before he was struck by Santana’s liner.
“I think I’m all right,” Bard said. “It hit that never and that feeling kind of shot down my arm. It’s kind of swollen, but thank goodness it wasn’t a little lower. It would have been right on the bone.”
Angels: RHP Felix Pena (right knee) will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his right ACL while covering first base Saturday. The 29-year-old will undergo reconstructive surgery once the swelling subsides.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (right forearm fracture) is slated to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment Thursday at Triple-A Columbus. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was struck by a line drive May 1 at Miami.
Angels: LHP Patrick Sandoval, acquired from Houston for C Martin Maldonado last July, will be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to make his major league debut Monday at Cincinnati. He went 4-4 with a 6.41 ERA in 15 starts for the Bees.
Indians: RHP Aaron Civale will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus and join the rotation Monday against Texas. His lone big league appearance occurred on June 22, when he pitched six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over Detroit.