So hard that the Indians weren't sure if he would be able to make his scheduled start Saturday night against the Tigers. Reliever Dan Otero was ready to start and Adam Plutko was recalled from Class AAA Columbus just in case.
But Clevinger not only started, he pitched five strong innings. But the flu that rocked Clevinger apparently hit his offense as well as the Indians lost to the Tigers, 2-1, at Comerica Park.
"I thought Clev gave everything and a little bit more," said manager Terry Francona. "When we took him out, he didn't fight it. He gave us a lot. That was a pretty good effort."
Clevinger said he woke up Saturday morning at 3:45 and started vomiting. He went back to bed for about and hour before repeating the process a few more times. He finally called James Quinlan, the team's head athletic trainer.
"I called James and told him, 'We've got some stuff to deal with right now,'" said Clevinger. "I can't stop sweating and I can't stop puking. I don't know what's going on. I must have had the jungle flu, but he got me right.'
"Props to him and the Detroit team doctor who came over and got the IVs in me right before the game. It was perfect timing."
Clevinger received two IVs before game the first itch along with some antibiotics.
"I felt like pudding out there," he said.
Maybe Clevinger (7-7, 3.43) should have stayed in bed. He allowed two runs, and struck out eight, but suffered his fourth straight loss and fifth in the last five starts.
Clevinger, who retired seven straight to start the game, allowed a one-out single to Jose Iglesias in the third. No. 9 hitter JaCoby Jones followed with a first-pitch, two-run homer to erase the Tribe's 1-0 lead. Jones was 1-for-7 against Clevinger coming into the game.
"He made one mistake," said catcher Roberto Perez. "We wanted to ball to Jones down and away and it was up and in.
"His velocity was up. I couldn't tell he was sick."
The Tigers, 4-11 against the Tribe this season, ended a five-game losing streak against the AL Central leaders.
Manager Ron Gardenhire started lefty Blaine Hardy after scheduled starter Francisco Liriano was scratched from Saturday's start on Friday night. Hardy allowed three straight one-out singles in the second, Jason Kipnis driving home Yonder Alonso with the third, for the Tribe's only run.
"They took the sting out of our bats," said Francona. "Hardy was able to spin the breaking ball, especially in fastball counts. We just didn't get much going.
"We got some hits early, but Frankie (Lindor) got picked off (following a leadoff walk in the first) and we couldn't string anything together. Their bullpen did a good job against us."
Hardy (4-3, 3.61) struck out one and walked two in five innings. He was making his 10th start and 20th appearance of the season. Drew VerHagen, Joe Jimenez and Shawn Greene held the Indians to one hit over the last four innings. Greene earned his 21st save.
The Tribe pen performed as well. Detroit loaded the bases in the seventh with no one out on a single, Alonso's second error in as many games and a walk by Zach McAllister. Lefty Oliver Perez retired Leonys Martin and Neil Ramirez relieved and Jeimer Candelario and Nicholas Castellanos to leave the bases loaded.
"They gave us a chance because that game could have go spread out very easily," said Francona. "They did a really good job."
Hardy threw 74 pitches, 47 (64 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 78 pitches, 54 (69 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Tigers drew 29,097 to Comerica Park on Saturday night. First pitch was at 6:10 p.m. with a temperature of 79 degrees.
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (12-6, 2.88) will face the Tigers and right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (4-2, 3.97) on Sunday in the final game of this three-game of this three-game series at 1:10.
This will be Kluber's third start against the Tigers this season. He's 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the first two starts. Overall, he's 10-7 against the Tigers in his career.
Zimmerman, who has been pitching better of late, is 0-4 with a 10.57 ERA in six appearances against the Indians.