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Mike Clevinger dominates as Indians offense heats up

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And the bullpen was technically there, too.

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

This one was decided early [Narrator voice: He said in the eighth inning before the bullpen did bullpen things].

Not when the Chicago White Sox jumped out to an early 1-0 lead following first-inning back-to-back hits, mind you, but in the next inning when Francisco Lindor hit a two-run single that scored Yonder Alonso and Yan Gomes to give the Cleveland Indians a tidy 4-1 lead.

Once both pitchers settled down — for the most part — it was a pretty quick game through the middle innings. At one point Clevinger sat down 12 White Sox batters in a row, including three straight fly outs in in the fourth and striking out the side in the fifth. You could say it was a good start for him.

It was also noted during the broadcast that Vinnie Pestano, the player the Indians dealt away in exchange for Clevinger, has retired from independent league ball. Pestano was part of a fun bullpen that injected some life into an otherwise dull time in Indians history known as the early ‘10s, and I’m forever grateful for that. But boy am I glad the Indians traded him away midway through the 2014 season for some long-haired kid who just got his first taste of High-A ball and was coming off Tommy John surgery.

Four years later, that same kid is stronger than ever and helping solidify one of the best rotations in baseball. His latest contribution was tonight’s 7.2 inning effort in which he spread out five hits, walked one, and struck out 10. That’s the second straight double-digit strikeout total for Clevinger, and his third of the season (the other one came against the Yankees in May). It was also just the fifth time this season — out of 14 starts — in which he’s walked fewer than two batters.

Clevinger worked his usual fastball-change-slider mix with pinpoint accuracy. His fastball, in particular, inducing 14 called strikes. Just total dominance against the rebuilding White Sox.

Carlos Rodon made just his third start of the season tonight, and the Indians offense was quick to remind him that he cannot carry a 6.89 FIP and expect to keep a 3.60 ERA forever. He would regress eventually, and the Indians made sure most of it happened tonight as they tagged him for five hits, four earned runs, and they drew a pair of walks over 6.1 innings. Most of that came early on, however. Like Clevinger, he settled into a groove after a rough first couple innings and was able to pitch almost seven innings despite racking up pitches early on.

Most of the damage on the Indians’ end was done by the top-third of the lineup, as it should be. Lindor went 2-for-4 with the aformention ribbies, while Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley combined to go 2-for-7. Edwin Encarnacion had a hit as well, but I’ve stopped being excited about one-hit games from Edwin. He hasn’t had a multi-hit game since June 3, and he’s gone hitless in four of his last five. So I guess in some ways one hit is an improvement right now, but I want vintage June/July Edwin to show up sometime soon. Not occasionally-hits-a-single Edwin.

[RECAP INTERRUPTED TO WATCH BULLPEN EAT ITSELF ALIVE]

Ok nevermind Cody Allen threw two pitches and saved the universe. Go Indians.