ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although Shane Bieber attended countless games at the Big A growing up, he’s been too busy to get back home in the summer recently. Cleveland’s ace didn’t realize his boyhood stadium had changed its ground rules a few years ago to effectively lower the right-field fence.
“I feel like I kind of put that one in the universe, because I was warming up, and I was like, ‘When did they change that yellow line?’” Bieber said with a rueful grin. ”Once I said that, I was like, ‘Oh man, it better not get me.’ And it ended up getting me.”
About 90 minutes later, Taylor Ward took Bieber right over that unfamiliar yellow line on the fence for the first of his two homers in another win for the surging Los Angeles Angels.
Ward drove in all three runs off Bieber, and Michael Lorenzen pitched six innings of three-hit ball in the Angels’ 3-0 victory over the Guardians on Monday night.
Ward delivered a solo homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh in his first game of the season replacing Shohei Ohtani as the Halos’ leadoff hitter. Ward delivered the first multi-homer game of his career and became only the third player to hit multiple homers in a game off Bieber (1-1), the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner.
“Just found two barrels and got lucky with it,” said Ward, whose OPS has ballooned to 1.125 in his impressive start to the season.
Lorenzen (2-1) took another strong step in his move into the Angels’ rotation this season after several years as a reliever in Cincinnati. Although he walked four, the right-hander didn’t allow a Cleveland runner to reach third while getting sharp defense behind him.
“You know you have to be on top of your game (against an ace like Bieber), and tonight I wasn’t, to be really honest,” Lorenzen said. “I was just going for weak contact, because I didn’t have my best stuff. We were improvising and just competing.”
Lorenzen won the pitching matchup between two Orange County natives, combining with three relievers on a three-hit shutout — the third shutout already this season by the perpetually pitching-poor Angels. Raisel Iglesias worked the ninth for his third save, completing three perfect innings by LA’s bullpen.
Bieber is a native of next-door Orange, California, who played at Laguna Hills High School. Lorenzen was born in Anaheim and played at Fullerton Union High School.
Richie Palacios singled in the first two at-bats of his major league career for the Guardians, who have lost four straight after getting swept at Yankee Stadium last weekend. Cleveland recalled Palacios from Triple-A Columbus before the game, and the 24-year-old outfielder went 2 for 3.
“Thought he swung the bat like he belonged here,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I thought he handled himself pretty well.”
Ohtani went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts after being moved from leadoff to the No. 2 spot. The AL MVP was Los Angeles’ leadoff hitter for the first 16 games of the season, but his on-base percentage is down to .273.
Ward, the rising outfielder who took over the leadoff spot, opened the scoring with a full-count, two-out homer to center in the fifth. Myles Straw nearly pulled it back, but he missed on a leaping attempt.
Ward connected again on a full-count breaking ball in the seventh, scoring Max Stassi.
Mike Trout led off the sixth with a check-swing chopper that bounded perfectly down the right-field line for his 50th career triple. The three-time AL MVP is third in franchise history in triples, trailing only Jim Fregosi and Chone Figgins.
The next four Angels failed to drive Trout home, however.
Guardians: Palacios was called up because rookie OF Steven Kwan was out of the lineup with right hamstring tightness. Kwan also ran into the wall last weekend at Yankee Stadium, but apparently wasn’t seriously injured in the collision.
Angels: OF Brandon Marsh was scratched for the second straight game with a non-COVID-19 illness. He intends to play Tuesday.
Patrick Sandoval (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has thrown eight innings over his first two starts without allowing an earned run for the Angels. He faces Triston McKenzie (0-1, 2.38), who pitched seven impressive innings of two-hit ball last season in his only previous matchup with the Halos.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports