CHICAGO — Mike Clevinger has been sharp since his return from the injured list.
“Clevinger was excellent,” manager Pedro Grifol said.
Esteury Ruiz broke up the no-hit bid by leading off the sixth inning with a bloop single to left on a 3-2 pitch.
The Sox earned a split in the four-game series, with various degrees of pitching from the staff. The Sox allowed five home runs in Thursday’s 8-5 loss. Starter Dylan Cease allowed eight earned runs in Friday’s 12-4 defeat.
Touki Toussaint and Clevinger set the tone in wins Saturday and Sunday.
Here are three takeaways from the series.
1. Clevinger’s work while on the IL is paying off.
Clevinger was aware as the afternoon progressed that the A’s didn’t have a hit.
“Especially around the fifth you start to notice,” Clevinger said.
While there wasn’t a no-hitter, Clevinger continued to show that the work he put in while he was on the IL was paying off.
“We found a lot of things mechanically during that stint on the IL,” he said. “(I’m) just finally getting in a groove of being able to just go about my work and not worry about being hurt or not having something stop me from doing certain things in the weight room or stop me from doing certain things on the field.”
Clevinger has a 2.31 ERA in six starts since returning from the IL. He was out June 16 to July 29 with right biceps inflammation.
“Right around when he got hurt (against) the (Los Angeles) Dodgers, he was showing what he showed today,” Grifol said. “And when he got hurt, they didn’t just sit back and (say) ‘I’ve got to recover from my injury.’ They actually got to work on the mental side, on the game-planning side, mechanical side.
“They put in some really good work.”
2. Yoán Moncada continues to excel defensively.
Moncada had four hits and drove in two on Sunday.
But the third baseman’s top moment might have come defensively when he charged Tony Kemp’s slow grounder in the seventh and fired to first base in time for the out.
“That (glove-to-hand) exchange without even taking a step, that’s the kind of ability he’s got,” Grifol said.
Moncada said through an interpreter the key on that play was he got “rid of the ball as quick as possible.”
“That’s a play that I’ve done before, but today I got rid of the ball even quicker than before,” Moncada said.
Moncada, who missed time this season with two back-related IL stints, has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, going 12-for-32 (.375) with four doubles, one home run, eight RBIs and three runs. He had a three-run homer Saturday.
“I’ve been feeling good lately at the plate,” Moncada said. “I just need to keep working to keep that rhythm.”
3. Toussaint avoided a 1-inning hiccup.
Grifol recently noted it’s usually one inning in each outing that gives Toussaint fits.
Toussaint avoided those hiccups in Saturday’s 6-2 win, allowing two hits in five scoreless innings.
“The walks are still something I’m working on,” Toussaint said, “but other than that I felt pretty consistent, being able to make pitches when I needed to.”
Toussaint struck out four and walked three in the 94-pitch start.
“He’s got a good fastball, he’s got a good sinker,” Grifol said after Saturday’s game. “He’s got the capabilities of pitching down in the zone, keeping the ball on the ground, and minimizing damage, minimizing slug. This is what he did today.”
It was the fourth time in his career he went at least five innings without allowing a run.
Grifol wants Toussaint to continue to work on “game management” to lead to longer outings, which he also addressed with catcher Korey Lee.
“Calling the game is based on three things, which is the scoreboard, the pitcher’s strengths and game planning,” Grifol said. “If you only get two to pick, I’m picking the scoreboard and the strengths, and I’m going to leave game planning on the table. That’s just because a lot of things happen during the game that you can use to your advantage to economize some pitches.”
Grifol saw that Sunday with the veteran combo of Clevinger and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
“Grandal did a great job calling the game,” Grifol said Sunday. “Staying on the attack. Good game planning, stayed with (Clevinger’s) strengths and they executed all game long.”
Source: Yahoo Sports