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Clevinger, Bauer provide relief for Indians' 'pen

Starters step in to ease burden on pitching staff
MLB.com @MLBastian

MINNEAPOLIS -- There are times when a defeat is not a complete loss. The Indians would have surely preferred to sweep Thursday's doubleheader and the series with the Twins, but the Tribe was nonetheless pleased to head into an important set against the Royals with its pitching staff intact.

In a 4-2 loss in the nightcap at Target Field, starters Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer helped ease the burden on the bullpen by coming on in relief. It did not net a trip to the win column, but it put the Indians in a position where the upcoming rotation plans are unaffected, and the entirety of the relief corps should be available on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- There are times when a defeat is not a complete loss. The Indians would have surely preferred to sweep Thursday's doubleheader and the series with the Twins, but the Tribe was nonetheless pleased to head into an important set against the Royals with its pitching staff intact.

In a 4-2 loss in the nightcap at Target Field, starters Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer helped ease the burden on the bullpen by coming on in relief. It did not net a trip to the win column, but it put the Indians in a position where the upcoming rotation plans are unaffected, and the entirety of the relief corps should be available on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

"We're in a really good spot," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "And we came in here and took two out of three."

In the first inning of Game 1 on Thursday, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was forced to throw 39 pitches, leading to an exit after five innings. Manager Terry Francona then leaned on five relievers for the rest of that game and used one more true reliever in the second game. The only reliever who did not appear in either game was setup man Joe Smith.

Having Clevinger come out of the 'pen was a possibility as soon as Wednesday's rainout necessitated the doubleheader. He was moved to the bullpen and lefty Ryan Merritt was promoted from Triple-A Columbus as the 26th man to start Game 2, so the Indians could avoid needing a roster move on Monday to add a starting pitcher. Merritt lasted 3 2/3 innings and Clevinger later logged 60 pitches in 2 2/3 frames.

Video: CLE@MIN: Merritt escapes a bases-loaded jam in 2nd

Bauer's warmup session and his nine pitches in the ninth inning on Thursday night essentially served as his side-day work ahead of his next start. Bauer coming out of the bullpen was also the product of the right-hander going to Francona and offering to pitch in the doubleheader, if the staff got into a tough situation.

"Trevor came to us. We were going to talk to him," Francona said. "It doesn't surprise me. That's part of what makes this group fun. They're willing and, most of the time, able."

To Bauer, it only made sense.

Video: CLE@MIN: Bauer strikes out Rosario to end the 8th

"Shoot, we had seven guys in the 'pen. We usually carry eight," Bauer said. "Five guys pitched in the first game. I just looked to see where everyone was at. I knew how I felt. I knew I could pitch today. It's my normal bullpen day. I went to see where we were at and it was like, 'Hey if you guys need me, let me know.' I easily could have pitched today and didn't want someone to throw twice or whatever and get even more worn out."

So while it was a draining day for the Indians, and one that ended with a loss, they left Minnesota without decimating their pitching staff.

"We did a really good job of limiting their runs for how many baserunners we had," Callaway said. "We didn't have to use a ton of our relievers and over-use them. Everybody, all of them, will be available [Friday]. That's not usually the case coming out of a doubleheader."

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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