Mike Clevinger made his major league debut on Wednesday night against the Reds, surrendering 4 ER on 5 hits in a no-decision
Prior to Wednesday night, the Indians had played three extra inning games and were 0-for-3. They finally won one as they defeated the Cincinnati Reds 8-7 in 12 innings on Wednesday night. The Tribe hasn’t fared well in any late tie or close games; they’ve lost 4 games in walk-offs and have yet to win one themselves in walk-off fashion. Yet they managed to come back from a 7-5 deficit in the ninth inning on a two-run homer from Rajai Davis and took the lead in the top of the 12th on a solo shot from Francisco Lindor. The Reds do have a notoriously bad bullpen, but it still felt good to take advantage of that and leave with a win.
For the first half of this game, it seemed like the big story of the night would be the first major league start of Mike Clevinger (which is still a pretty big story). Through the first five innings, the only run allowed by Clevinger was a solo home run by Jay Bruce. In fact, Clevinger held the Reds to just two hits (with one being the Bruce homer). Heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Indians had a 4-1 lead and Clevinger seemed to be rolling. A single by Zack Cozart, and a weird bunt single by Billy Hamilton started off the Reds’ half of the inning, and a double by Joey Votto made it 4-3. Even though the next batter, Brandon Phillips, struck out, Terry Francona opted not to let Clevinger face Bruce for a second time. However, Kyle Crockett wasn’t able to get Bruce out either, and when he was replaced by Zach McAllister there were runners on second and third with nobody out. McAllister surrendered a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Eugenio Suarez, to make the score 6-4 Reds. Four of those runs were charged to Clevinger, although he looked much better than his line in the box score. The Reds scored their seventh run when Jay Bruce hit his second homer of the game off of Jeff Manship in the eighth inning.
Even though the Indians weren’t as overwhelming as the past couple of days, they still managed to score 8 runs. Plus they won a game in a National League park, where they haven’t had as much success during Francona’s tenure. Even though they’re 37-32 in interleague play since 2013 (including a 4-5 record from so far this year), they’re just 11-23 in National League parks. If you don’t want to do the math, that means they’re 26-9 against NL teams at home. Obviously it’s a bit tricky to contend with pitchers batting and losing your DH, so it’s good to see the Indians get their first win so far this season in an NL park.
I’m also glad to see Clevinger get a chance to pitch in place of Cody Anderson. Anderson was essentially throwing batting practice in most of his starts; his only bright moment was when he came out of the bullpen in extra innings against the Astros. It’s probably not a great situation when your best outing of the year is when you ultimately surrendered a game-winning, two-run, walk-off home run. It sounds as if Carlos Carrasco’s rehab is going as planned, but it’s still good to have depth in case of an additional injury or if someone should happen to struggle. Despite his shaky sixth inning, I think Clevinger looked good against a Reds team that hits really well at home.
So far in three games against the Reds, the Indians have scored 36 runs. Let’s hope they can add to that total on Thursday as they close out the battle of Ohio.