Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger fans 12 in Cleveland's 7-2 win over Detroit Tigers
By BRIAN DULIK
CLEVELAND — Mike Clevinger wanted to make the most of his strict pitch count as the strikeouts piled up.
Clevinger matched his career high with 12 strikeouts and 100 pitches over six innings, as the Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the Detroit Tigers with a 7-2 win on Wednesday night.
The right-hander struck out the side in the first two innings and had nine strikeouts through four — one against each batter in Detroit’s lineup — in his fourth start since returning from a sprained left ankle suffered on June 17 at Texas.
“I know we had to see how I bounce back and how the ankle recovers, but hopefully tonight was the last time they cut me off at 100,” Clevinger said, smiling.
“When I looked up and saw I was at 60 pitches through three, I’m like, ‘OK, I need to get more efficient.’ But I think the reins will be loose from here on out.”
The Indians moved within four games of AL Central-leading Minnesota, the closest they have been to first place since May 14. Cleveland has won 10 straight over the Tigers and leads the season series 11-1.
Clevinger (3-2) allowed one run on six hits in his third double-digit strikeout game of 2019, coaxing the Tigers into a career-high 23 swings-and-misses. He has been spectacular over the last three outings, going 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 17 innings.
“A lot of deep counts are going to come with as many strikeouts as he had, but I thought his stuff was tremendous,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think he’s getting to the point where the game is going to dictate when he comes out.”
Oscar Mercado, who leads AL rookies with a .286 batting average, had a two-run double and Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 and scored twice for Cleveland.
After Nicholas Castellanos hit a solo homer in the top of the eighth, the Indians broke the game open with four runs in the bottom-half off reliever Joe Jimenez. Pinch-hitter Greg Allen doubled home a pair, All-Star Francisco Lindor homered and Jason Kipnis had an RBI single.
The Tigers have lost eight of their last nine games and are 4-23 since June 13.
Detroit starter Spencer Turnbull (3-9) fell to the Indians for the fourth time in four starts this season. The right-hander pitched six-plus innings, giving up three runs with three strikeouts.
“Spencer did great and gave us a great opportunity to win,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “His stuff was good against a good hitting team over there. All you ask of a starting pitcher is to give you a chance, and he did a nice job.”