Indians' Clevinger looks for better result against Tigers (Jul 02, 2017)

BY AP • July 2, 2017

DETROIT -- Mike Clevinger would like to forget the last time he stood on the Comerica Park mound.

The Cleveland Indians right-hander had a brief and unpleasant start against the Detroit Tigers last September, surrendering five runs in two innings before he was removed. Cleveland went on to lose that game 12-0.

"Yeah, I remember it, but I don't want to," he said Saturday.

Fortunately, the Indians had already secured the American League Central title. Clevinger expects better results when he opposes Detroit ace Justin Verlander in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon. The teams split a doubleheader on Saturday.

Clevinger certainly doesn't want to have any flashbacks.

"It was just one of those days," said Clevinger, who pitched two scoreless innings against the Tigers earlier last season and hasn't faced them this season. "Obviously, it was not a great time for one of those days, but you can look at it both ways because we already had the division clinched.

"But it was just one of those days where I didn't have it working and that lineup was hungry, trying to get that wild card to get into the playoffs. So they got me."

Clevinger (3-3, 3.56 ERA) had it working in his last start, limiting Texas to one run and two hits with a career-high nine strikeouts in six innings on Tuesday. He got a no-decision in the 2-1 loss.

"It was just another step in the right direction, attacking the zone," he said. "That was the game plan going in and I think I did a good job of that. The (breaking) pitches played well once I started attacking."

Clevinger mixes his four-seam fastball, slider, curve and change, but approximately 40 percent of the pitches he threw against the Rangers were either sliders or changeups.

"I kind of let the game dictate," he said. "Lately, we've been seeing a lot of lineups with really, really good fastball hitters.

"Maybe the opponents have dictated more offspeed so far, but I wouldn't say it was a natural game plan that I was going to throw more sliders than usual."

Verlander (5-4, 4.47 ERA) is coming off a couple of unusual performances. He allowed three first-inning runs to Kansas City on Tuesday, then tossed six scoreless innings in a 5-3 Detroit victory. In his previous start, he threw five perfect innings at Seattle, then didn't get out of the sixth as the Mariners scored three runs.

Verlander has lasted seven innings in two of his last three starts after exiting an early June start against the Chicago White Sox after two-plus innings with groin tightness.

"He's made a few adjustments from start to start, and you're starting to see the results show," said James McCann, who caught Verlander's last two outings. "JV is a guy who expects perfection out of himself every time he steps on the mound and he's done a heck of a job recently for us. I look for him to continue to make strides and continue to be the Verlander that we've all come to know and love."

Verlander got rocked by the Indians in mid-April for nine earned runs in four innings but bounced back to hold Cleveland to two runs in seven innings on May 2. He's 20-22 with a 4.63 ERA in 50 career starts against the Indians.

The Tigers are 5-3 against the Indians after going 4-14 in head-to-head meetings last season.

"In division is obviously really big, whether that's April, May or in September," McCann said. "You've got to be able to take care of teams in your own division."

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