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Clevinger, bullpen dominate to salvage Chicago split

By PAUL HOYNES • Updated Jun 15, 2018 at 12:10 AM

CHICAGO — Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez became surprise power sources for the Indians last year when they combined to hit 62 home runs.

This year the power is not so surprising, but it is always needed. Just ask Mike Clevinger.

Lindor started Thursday's game with a leadoff homer and Ramirez broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning with a two-run homer as the Indians beat the White Sox, 5-2, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The two homers made Clevinger a winner for the first time since May 29 when he beat -- drum roll, please -- the White Sox. The Indians came out of this four-game series with a split after winning Monday's opener, but losing the next two games.

Clevinger (5-2, 3.15) allowed two runs, one earned, in seven innings with 11 strikeouts. The 11 strikeouts were a season high and he did it on 99 pitches. It's the first time Clevinger hasn't thrown 100 or more pitches in a start since April 26 against Seattle.

"MY first pitch strikes were really high and I tried to stay in attack mode with good intention, but still going for location," said Clevinger.

Manager Terry Francona said one of the reason Clevinger was so effecient is that he threw first pitch strikes to 23 of the 27 batters he faced.

"That's off the charts," said Francona. "So guys are hitting in the hole and his stuff is good. That would be the key reason, if you ask me."

In two starts against the White Sox this season, Clevinger has allowed two earned and struck out 18 in 13 2/3 innings.

After Lindor's leadoff homer off lefty Carlos Rodon (0-2, 3.60), Jose Abreu answered with a two-run homer in the first to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead. The first run was unearned because Yolmer Sanchez reached on an error by second baseman Erik Gonzalez to start the game.

The Indians couldn't do much against Rodon, who was making his second start of the season after undergoing left shoulder surgery in September. But what they did was good enough to tie the game.

They loaded the bases against Rodon in the fourth as Rajai Davis and Edwin Encarnacion walked and Brandon Guyer celebrated his return to the active roster by getting hit by a pitch. Guyer led the AL in that painful statistical category in 2015 and 2016.

Yan Gomes, down in the count 1-2, took three straight balls to draw the third walk of the inning and bring home Davis to make it 2-2.

"It was nice to see us get that game back tied," said Francona, "because the way Clevinger pitched you'd hate to see one pitch (cost him). But once Clev put that behind him, he got them out the rest of the way."

The Indians didn't score again until the seventh when Ramirez hit homer No. 20 for a 4-2 lead. It came off Chris Volstad after Lindor singled and stole second.

Ramirez, who hit 29 homers last year compared to Lindor's 33, didn't hit No. 20 until Aug. 28 on his 490th at-bat. He hit No. 20 on Thursday in his 255th at-bat.

Power wise it has been a dry spell for Lindor and Ramirez. It was Lindor's first homer since May 31 and gave him 15 for the season. It was Ramirez's first homer since June 5.

Ramirez, before the homer, hit fly balls to the warning in center and left field in the first and fifth innings.

"I told Millsie (bench coach Brad Mills) and Carl (Willis, pitching coach) that he never leaves here without hitting one," said Francona.

The recalibrated bullpen did a nice job in relief of Clevinger. Neil Ramirez and Oliver Perez pitched the eighth and closer Cody Allen finished this seven-game trip with a scoreless ninth for his 13th save.

Allen needs five more saves to pass Bob Wickman (139) for the franchise record.

What it means

The Indians have won 17 of their last 23 games against the White Sox. The lead the season series, 5-2.

The pitches

Rodon threw 100 pitches, 59 (59 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 99 pitches, 70 (78 percent) for strikes.

Lead the way

Lindor opened the game with his third leadoff homer of the season and the sixth of his career.

Thanks for coming

The Indians and White Sox drew 17,183 fans to Guraranteed Rate Field on Thursday afternoon. First pitch was at 2:10 p.m. with a temperature of 79 degrees.

Up next

Indians return home to play a three-game weekend series against the Twins, who took three out of four from them at Target Field from May 31 through June 3. Corey Kluber (10-2, 1.99) will start against the Twins and Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45) at 7:10 p.m. tonight. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR-FM 95.3 will carry the game.

Carlos Carrasco and Adam Plutko are scheduled to start Saturday and Sunday for the Tribe. They'll faced Fernando Romero and Jake Odorizzi.

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