Hometown Player Shane Bieber Wasn't Even Supposed To Be in MLB All-Star Game, Wins MVP


Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber may have been one of the last players added to the MLB All-Star Game, but he walked away as the game’s most valuable player.

Bieber, 24, didn’t find out he made the American League All-Star team until Friday, when he was picked to replace the Texas Rangers’ Mike Minor.

He made the most of the opportunity, striking out the side in the fifth inning to hold the American League’s 1-0 lead.

He got the Chicago Cubs’ Wilson Contreras looking, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte swinging and the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. looking.

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The AL went on to win the game 4-3, which was played at Bieber’s home stadium, Progressive Field in Cleveland. The AL added a run in the fifth inning when the Minnesota Twins’ Jorge Polanco drove in the New York Yankees’ Gary Sanchez, who doubled, with an infield single.

After a home run by the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon, the AL scored twice in the seventh, led by the Rangers’ Joey Gallo, who blasted a home run.

The New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hit a two-run single in the eighth to make it 4-3, but the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman slammed the door shut, striking out the side in the ninth to lock down the save.

Did Bieber deserve to win the MVP award?

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched the second inning, got the win. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took the loss, giving up the game’s first run in the second when the Houston Astros’ Michael Brantley hit an RBI double.

But the story was hometown hero Bieber. In just his second season in the majors, he became the first pitcher to win the All-Star game’s MVP in his home stadium since Pedro Martinez did it at Fenway Park in Boston in 1999.

“It was unbelievable,” Bieber said after the game. “It was definitely a whirlwind being added to the team about four or five days ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect. And then I was told I was pitching the fifth yesterday, and I really just wanted to go out there and get three outs and represent the city well.

“This is an unbelievable experience just to be able to be here and do it for the home crowd.”

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Bieber, who is 8-3 on the year with a 3.45 ERA, said he relied on his veteran teammates to keep calm and strike out the side.

“Fortunately, I had a couple of really good teammates to kind of rely on and ask them — Brad (Hand) and Frankie (Francisco Lindor) and Carlos (Santana). They all said it’s going to be a lot, just try and take it in and enjoy it. And these fans here tonight made that really easy for me when they had my back going in for that third at-bat and that was really special and that’s something I’ll cherish forever.”

His teammates were thrilled for him.

“Baseball is crazy,” Santana said, reported. “Everybody was thinking about a lot of other players besides Bieber, but I’m happy for him. Happy for him being the MVP and I’m proud.”

Bieber said it was a surreal experience when the crowd stood and cheered as he was trying to strike out the side.

“I couldn’t really feel my feet or the rest of my body, for that matter,” he said. “I really just tried to enjoy it. I kind of stepped off the back of the mound and took it all in because that’s what my teammates and guys that have been here and done that told me to do. I really just tried to cherish that moment, and take it all in.”

For his efforts, he won a new Silverado Trailboss from All-Star game sponsor Chevrolet.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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