Clevinger doesn't allow a hit in Triple-A debut
Indians No. 15 prospect strikes out a career-high 10 in Clippers' decisive playoff win
Apparently no moment is too big for Mike Clevinger.
The Indians' No. 15 prospect was called upon Monday to make his Triple-A Columbus debut, getting the start in a win-or-go-home game five against Norfolk in the Governors Cup semifinals.
Clevinger responded to the challenge with 7 2/3 no-hit innings and a career-best 10 strikeouts, guiding Columbus to a 5-0 victory. He was pulled from the game to a standing ovation after 102 pitches (65 strikes), with the pair of walks he issued in the fifth and eighth innings, respectively, representing the only blemishes in the 24-year-old right-hander's performance, which tied his longest Minor League start.
"This is definitely my best outing of the season so far, definitely one of the best of my career," Clevinger told MiLB.com. "I felt fresh, I had a lot of days off, so I definitely felt good."
Veteran Shawn Marcum yielded a single in relief of Clevinger to end the Clippers' bid for a combined no-hitter.
"I mean I was a little disappointed, I wanted to keep it going, I felt like I had it," Clevinger said to MiLB.com. "Pitch counts -- it's their call, whatever they feel is best, I'm with it."
Clevinger's stellar outing was backed by offensive performances from shortstop Erik Gonzalez and third baseman Yandy Diaz. Gonzalez, the team's No. 10 prospect, went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to finish the series with a .476 batting average, while Diaz (No. 28) finished 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Beyond helping Columbus advance to the Governors Cup finals, Clevinger's gem also solidified his return to the prospect spotlight after several injury-plagued seasons.
Originally drafted by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft, Clevinger made just eight starts the following year for the club's Class A affiliate before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which would limit him to just 46 2/3 innings between the 2012-13 seasons. The Seminole State (Fla.) Community College product managed to log 100 innings in 2014, though, as expected, he lacked the command he had shown prior to surgery. In August of that season, the Angels dealt the righty to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano.
Fully recovered from his injury, Clevinger emerged as one of the Tribe's better pitching prospects this season in his first taste of the Double-A level, posting the fifth-best 2.73 ERA in the Eastern League while working a career-high 158 innings (27 appearances/26 starts) for Akron. On top of that, he posted a 1.06 WHIP, led the league opponents' batting average (.219) and ranked second in strikeouts (145).