CLEVELAND -- Pitcher Mike Clevinger is making the most out of his latest opportunity in the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation.
Despite the Indians (40-36) suffering a 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers (39-38) at Progressive Field Tuesday night, Clevinger allowed just two hits, two walks and one earned run over six innings of work against the Rangers.
“Just staying locked in on every pitch, that’s what I’m kind of working on getting into this because it felt like the last start, I was a little sporadic,” Clevinger said. “My mind was going different places, and that was the main focus here.
“It’s always trying to take the positives and negatives and see where you go with each start. I’m trying to do the same here.”
The Rangers drew even with the Indians in the top of the fifth inning.
After former Indians slugger, and current Rangers designated hitter, Mike Napoli and second baseman Rougned Odor struck out and grounded out, respectively, catcher Robinson Chirinos belted a 2-1 slider from Clevinger into the seats in left field for the game-tying run.
“I was trying to throw the same slider I was throwing all game, and that one just kind of backed up on me,” Clevinger said. “Not a good time for it.”
Although Clevinger surrendered his seventh home run in 10 appearances, including nine starts this season, he was more than settled in for his six innings of work.
Clevinger struck out nine Rangers hitters and found the strike zone with 61 of his 102 pitches.
“Pitching 0-1 is a hell of a lot easier than 1-0,” Clevinger said. “I’m just trying to get the advantage and play the percentages more in my favor. It was almost like they found the barrel last start, and I started nit-picking the corners and getting a little bit away from my gameplan.
“It was a lot more controlled, and I used my intensity to my advantage when need be this game, as opposed to last game, when it was hit or miss.”
Over his last three starts, including Tuesday’s against the Rangers, Clevinger has posted a 1-0 record with a 2.40 earned run average. Over 15 innings pitched, Clevinger has registered 17 strikeouts against seven walks and held opponents to a .196 batting average.
“The first couple innings, he threw a lot of pitches, and then, he started feeling more confident with his stuff and started really throwing it, all of his pitches,” Indians bench coach Brad Mills said. “Attacking the zone is probably the word I could use there and really did a good job.
“His pitch count kind of leveled off and came down, and he really did a good job. Anytime he goes through with a pretty good-hitting ball club and do what he does, I’m sure he’d like to have one 1-2 breaking ball back, but at the same time, he threw the ball extremely well, and it’s something he can really hang his hat on. I’m really proud of the way he threw the ball.”