CLEVELAND -- Walking White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka wasn't the ideal ending for Mike Clevinger's outing, but everything else up to that point warranted a standing ovation. And that's exactly what the Indians right-hander received from fans at Progressive Field on Tuesday night after another solid showing.It was a performance
CLEVELAND -- Walking White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka wasn't the ideal ending for Mike Clevinger's outing, but everything else up to that point warranted a standing ovation. And that's exactly what the Indians right-hander received from fans at Progressive Field on Tuesday night after another solid showing.
It was a performance similar to teammate Trevor Bauer's from the day before, which saw Bauer allow three hits and strike out eight over seven scoreless innings. Clevinger struck out 10 over 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball to help the Indians to a 6-3 victory, their third straight.
"I think it's a good thing if they can feed off each other," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of the relationship between Clevinger and Bauer. "They can learn and that's important. They all go out together and watch their [bullpen sessions] and things like that so they can collaborate a little bit and also hold each other accountable."
In games that Clevinger follows Bauer and faces the same opponent, he's 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. In those starts he's allowed 17 runs (16 earned) with a 58-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"I watch [Bauer's] sequencing a lot," Clevinger said. "I mean, we're different pitchers. We have similar arsenals, so I'll watch how he tunnels certain pitches with certain hitters and the way he attacks them, more so from the first and then the third time through [the lineup]."
The start also marks the second straight outing Clevinger has dominated the White Sox. He struck out 11 over seven innings while allowing one earned run against them last Thursday.
"He was commanding all of his pitches," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "His fastball had really good life. He was keeping the ball down below the zone. You saw him get a lot of checked swings on some of his breaking pitches. … He's got a pretty good repertoire and was able to command in the zone consistently throughout the whole ballgame."
Clevinger settled in after giving up his only run in the first. Yoan Moncada led the game off with a double and later scored on a Jose Abreu single. After giving up a one-out single to Charlie Tilson in the second inning, Clevinger retired 13 straight.
"When you're in that, that's probably the small amount of time you don't have to think about much besides the pitch that's being called," Clevinger said. "So once I kind of found my mechanics and I was moving well, it was kind of unconscious at that point when it comes to mechanical adjustments.
"That's the funnest way to play. It's so hard to get to that spot and very rarely do you actually feel that way. But when you find that little tunnel and you can just focus on the game, it's a lot easier."
Clevinger didn't issue a walk until the eighth inning, to Yolmer Sanchez, and he walked Palka two batters later. Neil Ramirez picked up the slack and retired the side after facing one batter. After Zach McAllister allowed two runs on a Moncada double in the ninth, Cody Allen came on and retired Abreu for his 15th save.
The decision to send Clevinger out for the eighth was an easy one for Francona, and it's a decision the skipper said is well-deserved.
"He's earned it, every bit of it," Francona said. "He's doing everything you would ever ask of any guy. He works hard. He's prepared. He competes like crazy. He's got three good pitches that seem to be getting better.
"We're looking always for reasons to have the glass be half full. He gives you a lot of reason to feel that way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cleveland strikes for four: The Indians posted four runs in the second inning after White Sox starter Carlos Rodon allowed the first four batters to reach base. Yonder Alonso drove in Edwin Encarnacion on a single, and Brandon Guyer scored on a wild pitch. Francisco Lindor capped the big frame by driving in Alonso and Yan Gomes with a single.
Though Cleveland knocked out Rodon after 6 1/3 innings, the rally was especially pleasing for Francona because of the White Sox left-hander's previous success against the Tribe. Rodon entered the game with a 2.43 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Indians with 68 strikeouts over 66 2/3 innings.
"[Rodon] was fighting his command, but I thought we earned some of the fastballs we got to," Francona said. "Laying off some of those breaking balls isn't very easy to do. Yonder did it and then got a fastball he could handle. Because his stuff is really good. That breaking ball spins -- you could see it from the dugout -- especially to the left-handed hitters."
The Indians tacked on two more in the seventh after Rodon left the game. Rajai Davis singled off White Sox reliever Bruce Rondon and came around on a double off the center-field wall by Michael Brantley, who scored on an Encarnacion single.
With stolen bases from Guyer and Davis. The Indians have 23 consecutive successful steals, marking their longest streak since 1974. The Brewers are the last team to have a similar streak, which ended at 24 in 2016. The two stolen bases also moved the Indians into fifth in the Majors with 48 this season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
For a moment, it looked like Abreu had his 12th home run of the season. In the third inning, he lined a 1-1 changeup from Clevinger down the left-field line over the 19-foot wall. It was initially ruled a fair ball and home run, but Francona chatted with second-base umpire Ted Barrett, prompting a crew chief review. After a 44-second replay review, the call was overturned. Abreu returned to the batter's box, and Clevinger proceeded to strike him out.
Right-hander Corey Kluber (10-3, 2.24 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball on Wednesday, when the Indians host the White Sox in a 1:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. On Friday, Kluber exited after giving up a season-high four runs over a season-low five innings against the Twins. That snapped Kluber's quality start streak at 14 outings. It also ended his American League-record run of 26 consecutive starts of allowing three or fewer runs. Chicago will send Reynaldo Lopez (2-4, 3.35) to the hill in the finale of the three-game set.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.