CLEVELAND — There was no Easter celebration for the Indians at Progressive Field on Sunday night.
Instead, with right-hander Shane Bieber working one of the worst outings of his brief career, the Indians laid a gigantic egg in front of 16,039 fans and a national television audience on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” losing a lopsided 11-5 decision to Atlanta.
The loss came on the heels of a shockingly bad defeat in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday, when the Braves rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to win 8-7.
To make matters worse, Josh Donaldson, whom the Indians chose not to re-sign this offseason, powered Atlanta with two home runs in his first two at-bats as the Braves scored eight unanswered runs over the first three innings.
They had 10 hits in the first four innings to Cleveland’s three, with six going for extra bases.
“I didn’t think Biebs located nearly (as well) as he has been,” manager Terry Francona said. “The two pitches two Donaldson, they were probably both balls. One was a breaking ball that was down and away and the other one was about head high. But when Biebs is good, like normal, he’s following the glove. When he misses, he doesn’t miss by much. He was just scattering balls tonight.”
“I thought he hit some pretty good pitches tonight,” Bieber said of Donaldson, who entered the game with two homers and three RBIs in 20 games. “I’ll have to go back and look at it and look at some sequences, but he was pretty locked in. I thought I could have executed a little better, but all in all, I thought he hit some pretty good pitches.”
Bieber, who entered the night 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA over five appearances (four starts), was never able to find a groove. He allowed a solo shot to Donaldson two batters into the game and an RBI double to Nick Markakis in the opening inning.
Bieber allowed a leadoff walk in the second, then recorded an out before hitting a batter and surrendering a three-run homer to Donaldson.
“I felt like I never really got into a rhythm that I wanted to get into and kinda, if anything, fell on my heels a little bit,” Bieber said. “I never took their momentum away and built momentum of my own.
“Obviously, you’re going to have some of these outings, but the frustration for me comes from just knowing that we needed the innings. Having a doubleheader (Saturday) and the bullpen gets used in two games in one day, and it got used pretty good today. So I wasn’t able to come through in that aspect.”
While Braves hitters were bashing Bieber around the park, Cleveland’s offense, which included shortstop Francisco Lindor for the second straight game, was stagnant until the game was out of hand.
Braves starter Max Fried limited the Indians to two runs on seven hits and struck out six over 6 2/3 innings.
The 25-year-old left-hander retired the first two batters he faced before walking three straight, but Jason Kipnis flied out to center to end the threat. Fried proceeded to retire 13 of the next 16 hitters.
“He might look young, but (he’s got a) mid-90s fastball, slow breaking ball that kind of kept spinning,” Francona said of Fried, who made his 13th career start. “Kind of reminded me of (2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake) Snell in Tampa. I can see why they’re so excited about him.”
Lindor ruined the shut out with his first homer of the season — a solo shot to the Home Run Porch in left field in the seventh. Roberto Perez also hit a solo homer in the eighth.
With its bullpen depleted thanks to Bieber’s brief outing and a doubleheader the previous day, Cleveland was forced to use backup catcher Kevin Plawecki to pitch the ninth inning.
Plawecki retired the side in order in his third career relief appearance.
From the ninth inning of Saturday’s Game 2 loss through eight innings Sunday, Atlanta outscored the Indians 16-3.