Indians can't back Clevinger's strong start

July 19th, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the briefest of moments, lost sight of the fly ball in the lights that tower over AT&T Park's upper deck. The baseball struck the leather of his glove, rolled off his chest and then eluded the right fielder's grasp before falling to the grass.

That was all it took to derail another stellar outing from Indians starter Mike Clevinger in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings to the Giants on Tuesday night. Guyer's two-base blunder in the sixth, combined with another quiet night for the offense, paved the way for a walk-off loss on a night when Clevinger pitched well enough to win.

"It's really frustrating," Guyer said. "You never want anything like that to happen. He was pitching really good and didn't deserve to give up any runs."

While Cleveland has searched for consistency in its rotation behind ace and , Clevinger has quietly emerged as a reliable arm. His outing against San Francisco -- one unearned run allowed on three hits over six innings -- was just the latest in a string of strong starts. Over his past six turns, Clevinger has turned in a tidy 1.36 ERA to go along with a .161 opponents' average.

Clevinger's progress continued against the Giants, who chased pitches out of the zone, flailing at changeups and sliders en route to seven strikeouts against the righty. San Francisco was coming off a 1-for-15 stretch against Clevinger when sent a line drive over the right-center-field gap in the sixth. Guyer sprinted over and was in position to make the catch for the frame's second out.

That was when Guyer lost the ball in the lights and Nunez wound up on second base due to the error.

"I've got to catch it," Guyer said. "But at the last second, for whatever reason, I lost it. I've had that happen to me before and made the catch. It's a ball I've got to catch."

Clevinger followed with a strikeout of and then found himself in a critical battle with Giants catcher . With first base open, Clevinger tried to be careful, firing a 3-1 slider that tailed out of the strike zone. Posey anticipated the pitch, reached out and got it, delivering a broken-bat single that bounced up the middle and found its way into center field.

"He pitched him pretty well," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Clevinger pitched the Giants well all evening, but things like Guyer's missed catch or the pitcher's approach to Posey get thrown under the microscope when there is a lack of offense. Cleveland has 12 runs combined over its five games on the current West Coast trip with a .545 team OPS. With runners in scoring position, the Indians have gone 5-for-41 with a .334 OPS.

Cleveland went 1-for-7 with RISP on Tuesday night, contributing to a situation where closer was one mistake away from the end result: a walk-off loss.

"It makes it harder to win," Francona said of the lineup's struggles. "There's just no wiggle room, as we found out. Early on, we scored the one but we didn't convert the other one. You'd like to think you're going to have more opportunities. But on this trip, it's been pretty hard for us to score. We'll just keep fighting."