Clevenger steps in, and steps up in victory

Clevenger steps in, and steps up in victory

CLEVELAND -- Robinson Cano was the hero of the Mariners' 10-7 victory over the Indians on Thursday with his three-run homer in the 10th, but the Mariners wouldn't have got to that point without significant contributions from backup catcher Steve Clevenger.

The 30-year-old backstop hit a two-run homer in the second to get Seattle on the board, then finished his 2-for-4 day by drawing a leadoff walk in the 10th for what turned out to be the winning run, even though it was pinch-runner Luis Sardinas who crossed the plate on Cano's smash.

And for good measure, Clevenger saved the day in the bottom of the ninth by gunning down Francisco Lindor trying to steal second, a play that sent the game into extra innings.

Lindor out after challenge

Clevenger has been working hard to improve his defense, and he enjoyed that moment as much as any.

"That was definitely big," Clevenger said. "That guy gets to second, the next thing you know, they get a hit and score a run and win the ballgame. Anytime you throw guys out like that to end an inning, it's good and gets momentum going in there for our offense."

The 10th-inning walk against Cody Allen also was critical.

"That situation against their closer, I was just looking for something good to hit and he was painting me away a little," said Clevenger. "I went from 0-2 to a walk, so it's a pretty good day."

And indeed, his day started on a perfect note as he ripped a 2-1 offering from starter Cody Anderson into the right-field seats for his first homer as a Mariner and the fourth of his Major League career.

"Hanging changeup," Clevenger said. "I've been working with [hitting coach Edgar Martinez] a little bit about getting back a little more and just staying back on the ball. He threw me a good changeup to hit, and I put a good swing on it."

Add it all up and Clevenger's fourth start with the Mariners, who was acquired in a trade with the Orioles for Mark Trumbo, proved to be one to remember.

"Anytime I can get in there, playing every now and then, and contribute some way, whether it's throwing out a guy or calling a good game or getting a hit and RBI, it's big," said the Maryland native. "Every day you want to come in and contribute when your name is in the lineup."

Manager Scott Servais, a catcher in his own MLB career, appreciated it as well.

"Yeah, really good day for Clev," Servais said. "Big home run to get us going, threw Lindor out, which had to be right on the bag, and that's where he put it. And the leadoff walk in the 10th. It's tough when you aren't playing every day to get in there contribute offensively, but a really good day for him."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.