CLEVELAND — The superb starting pitching performance was somewhat expected. The eighth-inning offensive rally to save the day, compared to what the Indians had done in their first three games in the season, wasn't.

But it arrived just in time.

After an outstanding start from Mike Clevinger was wasted by a rough eighth inning for the Indians' bullpen, the lineup answered with a four-run rally in the bottom half of the inning to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 on Monday in the 2019 home opener at Progressive Field.

The Indians entered the eighth holding onto a 1-0 lead thanks to one of the best outings in Clevinger's career. Things unraveled quickly for the bullpen.

Adam Cimber entered the game and got Jose Rondon to hit a weak tapper in front of the mound. But Cimber threw the ball past first baseman Carlos Santana for an error to put the tying run on second base. After a sacrifice bunt by Adam Engel moved Rondon to third, Oliver Perez was brought in to face Yoan Moncada, who roped a double to left field to tie it 1-1.

Jon Edwards replaced Perez to try to stop the rally. Instead, pinch hitter Ryan Cordell belted a two-run home run to center field. As if the White Sox were simply waiting for Clevinger to leave the game, a three-run rally seemed to be an insurmountable lead relative to the offensive struggles the Indians' lineup faced in their first series in Minnesota.

In the eighth inning of their fourth game of the season, the Indians seemed to wake up. Leonys Martin drew a walk to open the inning and, with one out, Jake Bauers doubled to left-center, putting the tying runs in scoring position.

Santana was intentionally walked to load the bases and Hanley Ramirez lined a ball to second baseman Yolmer Sanchez, who couldn't make the catch. Martin scored on the error. Max Moroff followed by slicing a single to left field to tie it 3-3. Roberto Perez drew a four-pitch walk to easily plate Santana with the go-ahead run and Greg Allen followed with another free pass to complete the rally, salvage Clevinger's outing and take the bullpen off the hook.

“That was the first thing I said when we were sitting there just watching it with some of the clubhouse guys, like, ‘Man, this is Tribe baseball right here,' " Clevinger said when asked about the grinding win. "If there’s anything, this reminds me of my back-and-forth and getting up to stay with the 2016 team. It was like, it wasn’t all these flashy wins all the time. It was grinding out to the eighth, ninth inning, losing a lead, coming back and that’s Tribe baseball. That’s how we’re going to win and I like it."

In a matter of minutes, the Indians rode the wave between looking to be nearing a 1-0 victory to a tough, bad-feeling-in-your-gut loss to waste Clevinger's outing to a come-from-behind rally and a victory.

"Well, it [was] kind of a kick in the stomach," Indians manager Terry Francona said of losing the lead. "Maybe that bodes well, because we're going to have to fight for everything we can get. Today was an example. Bauers off of a tough lefty hits a ball into the gap and we were patient enough to let some things happen. We come away with a tough win. But I'd rather win than lose."

Clevinger allowed only one hit in seven innings to go with a career-high 12 strikeouts, as he gave the Indians their third solid start of the season. Clevinger bested both Corey Kluber's and Trevor Bauer's outings.

"I thought he was terrific," Francona said. "I mean, he was raring back. He was letting it eat. … It's not easy to do anything in that weather. But he was out there just letting it eat, man. He just looked really strong the entire game."

Edwards was credited with his second win of the season. Brad Hand entered the ninth and earned his second save of the season.

 

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.