CLEVELAND -- Mike Clevinger’s long-awaited return to the rotation will take place Monday in Texas.
Manager Terry Francona said prior to Wednesday’s game that Clevinger will be activated from the injured list after being sidelined since he left his second start of the season -- April 7 -- with an upper-back strain.
Clevinger made his second rehab appearance Tuesday, pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Double-A Akron while allowing three hits and striking out five, in a 2-0 win over Hartford.
Clevinger has averaged 95-97 mph on his fastball during his two rehab outings.
Following the game, Clevinger told reporters he was anxious to rejoin his team and help it make a run.
“We’ve played well in certain areas at times. We just haven’t been able to put it together at the same time,” he said. “Hopefully we get on that roll we kind of ran on the last couple years.”
Second baseman Jason Kipnis was expected to return to the lineup, but missed his second straight game after leaving Sunday’s loss to the Yankees with hip tightness.
Though Kipnis has struggled to a .218 batting average through 47 games, he’s been effective with runners on base, batting .301 (22-for-73) and .300 (6-for-20) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
What a relief
With 2 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday, the Indians bullpen lowered its ERA to a major league-low 3.21. Cleveland relievers had issued the fewest walks (65) in the majors through Tuesday, while ranking second with a 3.26 strikeout-per-walk ratio and third with a 1.20 WHIP.
At the forefront has been closer Brad Hand, who entered Wednesday tied with Detroit’s Shane Greene for the most saves (19) in the AL. Hand has yet to blow a save and his 0.91 ERA ranked second in the league among qualifying relievers through Tuesday.
“We’re just out there competing,” Hand said. “A lot of times we’re coming in with runners on base and we’re trying to pick each other up. That’s what good bullpens do. Hopefully we can keep the roll going.”
The Indians are off Thursday, beginning a three-game series in Detroit on Friday night at 7:10.
Adam Plutko (2-1, 5.19 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing LHP Ryan Carpenter (1-3, 7.89), while Shane Bieber (5-2, 4.07) goes for the Indians on Saturday (6:10 p.m.) and the Tigers are likely to employ an opener out of the bullpen.
Trevor Bauer (4-6, 3.71) starts for the Indians in the series finale Sunday (1:10 p.m.) against RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-5, 2.78).
Message from CC
Former Indians pitcher CC Sabathia took to Twitter to thank the Indians for their donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland on behalf of himself and his foundation.
“I want to thank the @Indians for their contribution to the @Clevekids on behalf of myself and @PitCChInFdn. It was a special place for me and continues to be for so many.”
The Indians paid tribute to Sabathia during his visit with the Yankees last weekend. He was a three-time All-Star and 2007 Cy Young award winner during his tenure in Cleveland (2001-08).
Reds hitting coach Turner Ward was ejected by home plate umpire Lance Barrett in the second inning for arguing a called third strike on shortstop Jose Iglesias. Ward, a former Indians prospect, made his big league debut with Cleveland in 1990. ... Michael Garcia, the son of former Indians pitcher Mike Garcia, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Garcia, a member of the Indians Hall of Fame, played on Cleveland’s last World Series-winning team in 1948 and on its World Series-losing team in 1954 during a tenure that spanned from 1948-59.