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Tribe bats can't back Clevinger's solid start

Right-hander strikes out seven in 6 2/3 innings vs. Rangers
MLB.com @MLBastian

ARLINGTON -- Melky Cabrera stopped after rounding second base and put his hands on his hips, knowing there was no way he could retreat to first in time. The veteran Indians outfielder was off and running with the pitch in the fourth inning, but the plan backfired.

Texas right fielder Joey Gallo caught the liner off the bat of Jason Kipnis and then tossed it to first baseman Ronald Guzman, who stepped on the bag to double up Cabrera to end the inning. It was that kind of afternoon for the Tribe on Sunday, when a solid effort by Mike Clevinger went for naught in a 5-0 loss at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- Melky Cabrera stopped after rounding second base and put his hands on his hips, knowing there was no way he could retreat to first in time. The veteran Indians outfielder was off and running with the pitch in the fourth inning, but the plan backfired.

Texas right fielder Joey Gallo caught the liner off the bat of Jason Kipnis and then tossed it to first baseman Ronald Guzman, who stepped on the bag to double up Cabrera to end the inning. It was that kind of afternoon for the Tribe on Sunday, when a solid effort by Mike Clevinger went for naught in a 5-0 loss at Globe Life Park.

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"We had runners on almost every inning," Kipnis said. "We just couldn't come up with the hit today. It happens. We used them all in the first two."

After scoring 25 runs on 38 hits over the previous two wins against the Rangers -- including a 16-3 romp on Saturday night -- the Tribe's bats came down with heat exhaustion in the third straight 100-plus temperature game in Arlington. The temperature at first pitch was 102 degrees and it continued to climb to 108 by the end.

Texas righty Yovani Gallardo silenced Cleveland's lineup. Gallardo only generated one swinging strike, but he mixed things up, kept the Tribe guessing and walking away with one of his best performances of the past few seasons.

"He just kind of mixed and matched a little bit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He'd take something off -- got us to take the sting out of our bats. We had some rollovers when we had guys in scoring position."

Gallardo entered the afternoon with an 8.60 ERA on the season. Against the American League Central-leading Indians, the right-hander spun six shutout innings, in which he scattered three hits and ended with more walks (four) than strikeouts (one). It marked the first time Gallardo logged at least six shutout frames since Aug. 22, 2015.

That showing put every Clevinger misstep under a microscope.

Clevinger only flinched twice -- and under similar circumstances -- in his 6 2/3 innings. The Indians starter issued a leadoff walk to Delino DeShields in both the third and fifth inning. Each time, DeShields promptly stole second base on Clevinger and catcher Yan Gomes. In the third, Rougned Odor brought DeShields in with a single. In the fifth, a sacrifice fly did the trick.

Those were the only two runs on Clevinger's line, which included seven strikeouts, four walks and a tough-luck loss.

"They always say, 'Well, you've got to score to win anyways,'" Clevinger said. "That doesn't mean, on the other hand, that I've got to give away runs, just because we were not scoring. That's exactly what I did. I mean, that second run they scored, they didn't get a hit. I walked the nine-hole hitter twice. That's just really, really bad baseball. That's unacceptable no matter what the score of the game is."

Odor continued to be a thorn in the Tribe's side in the eighth, when he launched a leadoff home run off left-hander Oliver Perez to pad Texas' lead. That marked only the second earned run yielded by Perez in his 23 appearances for the Indians and the first homer the veteran has given up to a left-handed batter since July 4, 2017 (Jay Bruce).

Video: CLE@TEX: Odor crushes a solo home run to right-center

Ryan Rua, who took over for Gallo (sprained ankle) in the eighth inning, added a two-run homer off Indians reliever Neil Ramirez with two outs in the eighth to help send the Indians home to Cleveland with a defeat.

"At the end of the day, with this lineup, two runs shouldn't hold us down," Gomes said. "It did today. Tip your cap to their guys. I feel like we try to give ourself some chances and they made their pitches."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gallo nabs Kipnis: After drawing a one-out walk in the second inning, Kipnis sprinted from first to third on a single to right by Gomes. Gallo gloved the ball and uncorked a 100.4-mph throw to third baseman Jurickson Profar, who applied the tag on Kipnis just in time for a key out. Per Statcast™, Gallo's throw was the third-hardest outfield assist tracked this season. Gallardo followed with a groundout against Tyler Naquin to escape the inning unscathed.

Video: CLE@TEX: Gallo throws 100.4 mph for outfield assist

"I won't ever second-guess that," Francona said of Kipnis trying to get to third base. "We need to be aggressive like that. He went. I thought it was the right time. [Gallo] just made a really nice throw."

Locked when loaded: The Indians appeared on the verge of a breakthrough in the eighth, when Francisco Lindor led off with a double to left-center against reliever Jake Diekman. The lefty later hit Jose Ramirez with a pitch and then issued a two-out walk to Cabrera to load the bases. Yandy Diaz worked the count full after falling behind, 0-2, but then swung and missed at a slider in the dirt for an inning-ending strikeout.

Video: CLE@TEX: Diekman fans Diaz with the bases loaded

"Any game you have traffic and guys on and opportunities," Kipnis said, "and you don't come through, it's frustrating. But, the good thing is we still came here and won a series and get to go back home now."

Where's Edwin?: In that eighth inning, Francona let Yonder Alonso (.641 OPS vs. left-handers this season) stay in to face Diekman with one out and runners on the corners. The manager said slugger Edwin Encarnacion was not called upon to pinch-hit due to having a full day off to rest his right hand (hit-by-pitch on July 15). Francona also opted against using Brandon Guyer (.864 OPS vs. LHP in '18). Alonso popped out to shortstop Elvis Andrus.

"We weren't going to go to Edwin today," Francona said. "We were going to give him a day to [rest]. Yeah, I actually did think about [using Guyer]. I just thought, we're hitting Yonder fourth today and he had two home runs last night."

HE SAID IT
"It was tough to be out there in this heat. My feet alone were just on fire. The ground was hard. When you're sweating and you can't maybe grip the ball because of the sweat and everything, I just don't think he had his sharpest stuff. He's the first one who will tell you that. And that's how he's growing as a pitcher. To not have everything that you want, and still be able to give the team seven innings and keep the game within distance." -- Kipnis, on Clevinger's performance

UP NEXT
Right-hander Corey Kluber (12-5, 2.76 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe on Monday, when the Indians host the Pirates in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Kluber last started on July 12 (six runs in 7 1/3 innings vs. the Yankees) and received a gel injection in his right knee the next day. He is 13-6 with a 2.57 ERA in 22 career Interleague outings. Pittsburgh will counter with righty Trevor Williams (7-7, 4.36).

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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