9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
Mike Clevinger, 27, has been getting better every season since he made his MLB debut in 2016 against the Reds. In 2017, he pitched out of the bullpen a bit, but the majority of his time was spent in the rotation making his case as the #3 starter on the Cleveland Indians. Today, Sunshine pitched his first complete game and it was of the shutout variety. Coming into today’s game, Clevinger had the fourth best ERA in the among Cleveland starters at 2.70; now, it’s been reduced to 1.75 and trails only Corey Kluber (yes, Kluber is that good). How did Clevinger do it? He bobbed and weaved his way through the Orioles lineup, using his fastball and his slider to great effect. The fastball had incredibly snappy movement all game and his slider would tail off right at the end of the pitch and often fell out of the zone. Couple that with his curveball had had some decent drop on it, and you had a recipe for success. My favorite moment from Clevinger came in in the sixth inning against Manny Machado. The fifth pitch of that at-bat was an 80mph slider that, shall we say, fooled Machado:
Looks like Manny was a bit out in front of this one... pic.twitter.com/2iB0pStBmT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 21, 2018
Glorious. Clev continued to be efficient with his pitch count the later he got into the game, needing fewer than 10 pitches in the final three frames (including just 5 in the 7th inning). The order of the top four in the rotation is still probably Kluber-Carrasco-Bauer-Clevinger, but Clevinger is making a case that he is much, much better than a #4 starter.
We are spoiled as Cleveland fans from a starting pitching perspective.
While Mike Clevinger was busy dealing and missing a Maddux by just eight pitches, the offense had an...okay day? The RISP woes were apparent early in the first inning when the Tribe had runners on second and third with just one out and could only scratch across 1 run thanks to an RBI ground out by Michael Brantley. Two innings later, the Indians again had two runners on with fewer than two outs but could not score. Chris Tillman, who only pitched six innings three times all last season, made it through six innings this afternoon because the Indians could never land the knockout punch. Yan Gomes broke through for the second run of the day in the 4th inning with a blast to left center field, and Jose Ramirez and Yonder Alonso each hit a solo home run in the 6th inning. Alonso’s would’ve been a 2-run shot, but Michael Brantley was caught stealing. After the home runs in the sixth, the rest of the game went by briskly; in total, the game only took 2 hours and 21 minutes, which I’m sure was a mandate by Manfred himself after the 5+ hour slog in Puerto Rico.
Things don’t get easier for the Orioles as they face Corey Kluber tomorrow. Andrew Cashner will take the mound against the Indians at 1:05 p.m. ET.
- Michael Brantley is the best hitter on the team right now and he added another hit today. He’s leading the team in BA (.341) as well as OPS (.860).
- Jose Ramirez looks to be heating up as he went 3-for-4 this afternoon. His home run was his fifth of the season and is the most on the team.
- The Indians still can’t hit with runners in scoring position. The team went 0-for-6 in that category today.
- Hats off to Orioles catcher Chance Sisco. The man threw out three base runners today, including Rajai Davis, who had not been caught yet this season. On a slow-mo replay, it looked like the Tribe could’ve challenged the Davis call and had it overturned, but regardless, Sisco had a great day behind the plate.
- Yonder Alonso and Manny Machado are brothers-in-law. Manny married Yonder’s sister Yainee in November of 2014. Neat.