After shaky start, Phil Hughes effective in return against Tribe

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Phil Hughes bounced back from a two-run first to hold the Indians scoreless over the next four innings Wednesday in his first start after nearly three months on the DL with an arm problem.

The Indians started the game with a walk from Michael Brantley, a single from Asdrubal Cabrera and an RBI single from Travis Hafner.  The second run scored after strike three to Carlos Santana got away from Russell Martin and Cabrera took off for third.  The throw eluded Alex Rodriguez and went into left field, allowing Cabrera to score.

While it was an unearned run initially, it was ruled earned after Orlando Cabrera singled later in the inning.

Hughes improved from there, though he never had a one-two-three inning.  He faced four batters each in the second, third and fourth.  In the fifth, he hit two batters and walked another before getting Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out, ending the frame and his night.

Hughes threw 88 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.  His fastball started off in the 92-93 mph range, but it had little movement and the Indians were able to make consistent contact against it.  Hughes survived because of his secondary pitches, his curve in particular.

All in all, it simply wasn’t the kind of showing that suggests Hughes is going to be a force in the second half.  He needs a little more velocity or fastball movement for that to happen.

Indians to sign Tyler Clippard

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Jon Heyman reports that the Indians are signing Tyler Clippard to a minor league deal. He’ll make $1.75 million if he makes the big league roster.

Clippard, a 12-year veteran who just turned 34, pitched in 73 games for the Blue Jays last year, posting a 3.67 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 85/23 in 68.2 innings. It was a nice bounce back year for him after he spent 2017 bouncing among three different teams in the course of a below average campaign.

With the departures of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and the elevation of Brad Hand to the closer’s role, Terry Francona will be looking for all the mid-innings help he can get in the Indians’ pen. Clippard could fit that bill.