July 5, 2022

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Clevinger solid in first start since TJ surgery 

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CLEVELAND — Mike Clevinger naturally looks antsy on the mound. When he’s in the windup, he shuffles back and forth, kicking up his plant foot with each rock from side to side before beginning his pitching motion. 

This week in Cleveland, Clevinger was a bit more restless than usual. He had been kept out of Major League action since Sept. 23, 2020, due to Tommy John surgery that offseason. But the funky righty returned to his former home to make his return to the mound in a 5-4 win for the Padres at Progressive Field on Wednesday. 

The anticipation deepened when Clevinger’s slated start on Tuesday was postponed by severe weather, though his four-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland likely prepared him for the rain. Manager Bob Melvin said he’d have to start Clevinger in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader because he was “bouncing off the walls.” 

“This is a big day for him,” Melvin said before the game. “He’s put in a lot of hard work to do this.” 

Clevinger showed little rust from his long layoff. He struck out two batters and allowed only a walk to former Cleveland teammate and the AL April Player of the Month, José Ramírez, through the first two innings, using a four-seam fastball that touched 95 mph to set up his five-pitch arsenal for success. 

However, it took Clevinger a few more pitches than hoped for to get through a contact-heavy Guardians lineup in the later innings. He needed 33 pitches to get out of a first-and-second, no-outs jam in the third with only a run coming across. Melvin seemed content to give Clevinger a chance to get through five innings despite the growing pitch count, but when he walked Ramírez again on his 95th pitch, the right-hander was lifted.  

Two runs were charged to Clevinger after Steven Wilson relieved him, but the Padres’ offense stepped up to spot him two runs in the top of the sixth to put San Diego ahead for good.

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