House looking forward to another opportunity in Cleveland
Glen Anthony “T.J.” House, Jr. got his first Major League experience last season when he was called up for three days in June. He got to experience what others can only dream about.
But for T.J., he’s working hard to make sure that it is not another Moonlight Graham moment, ‘coming so close to your dreams only to watch them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd,’ as it goes in the movie.
Moonlight made it into the game and played half an inning in right field but never batted. House was warmed up twice in the bullpen, but never made it into a game.
House started last season with the Akron Aeros and in four starts accumulated a 2-1 record with a 3.22 ERA. He was quickly pushed to Columbus and made his debut with the Clippers against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and tossed a quality start, but he struggled to a 1-7 record at the time of his promotion to Cleveland.
“I got here right around the end of the month," House said. "My first outing was really good against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but after that I kind of hit a rut for my next 11 or 12 starts. It wasn’t necessarily me not having the stuff to get the guys out. (I) was just making mistakes and bad timing and it was just something that I to learn to limit.”
He was called up when the Indians optioned Carlos Carrasco to the Clippers last June 24 and was optioned four days later when they activated the much maligned former closer Chris Perez from the disabled list.
What made it strange was that House had taken the loss in each of his previous five starts to that point.
"It was definitely a crazy experience,” House recalled. “They always say that you never know when you’re going to go up there and it’s true.
“I remember it was a day game and it was about 15 minutes before game time and [manager Chris Tremie's] like, ‘Hey, we need to go to my office.’ I’m like, 'what’s going on?'" House remembered. "I thought I was in trouble. He was kind of baiting me, chewing me out a little bit, acting like I was in trouble. So we get in there and he sits me down and he’s like, ‘I didn’t call you in here to get on you. You’re going into the bigs. Congratulations.’ For me it was just an overwhelming feeling because you work so long and so hard to get to that pinnacle.”
Tremie may have had some fun with House, but he enjoyed breaking the news to him.
"It's pretty exciting to tell them in any case, whether they've been there before or been there a long time or it's their first time," Tremie said. "All of it is pretty neat. With TJ, him getting called up was a little unexpected for him I think at the time and he was really excited. We called him in and told him he was going to the big leagues and you could just tell the expression on his face. It was something special. He enjoyed it and I enjoyed being able to relay that message to him."
When House was called up, the Indians were in Baltimore.
“Coming in to see Chris Davis, that’s not a bad one, huh?" House noted. "I’ll tell you I was a little nervous though. Anxious, nervous a lot of things piled into one. It’s just something that you dream of so often growing up and to get that close to have the opportunity of finally getting in there. It’s a little exciting.”
About a week before the International League All-Star break, things turned for House. In back-to-back starts against Indianapolis, he pitched a combined 12 innings, allowed only one run and struck out 11 batters. Most importantly, he won both of those starts.
“One day it just kind of clicked," House recalled. "I had a meeting with (Clippers pitching coach) Tony (Arnold) and Tremie and we kind of talked about how I could go about fixing this and improving. It just started about two starts before the All-Star break and I kind of caught wind and it just carried over from there.”
What did he fix?
“Mainly it was just trusting in my stuff, knowing that (I should) throw over the plate and they’ll take care of it for you and I think that’s a big part,” House recounted. “Also, kind of slowing innings down and not letting them get big on you and kind of controlling the game. Everything’s at my pace and that’s one thing that I’ve got to understand. I kind of get ahead of myself sometimes.”
Including the aforementioned starts against Indianapolis, House finished the season winning six out of his last seven decisions over 11 starts. He managed eight quality starts over that span and an ERA of 2.65.
Unlike Moonlight Graham, House is back for another season. Though it is early, he has picked up right where he left off last year. In three starts, House has thrown a quality start in two of them and has a 2.08 ERA. Hitters are batting only .220 against him this season. In 17.1 innings, he’s allowed only 13 hits and three walks.
“For me, my goal is to pitch a complete game every time that I go out there," House said. "That’s what I want to do. I really couldn’t care less about strikeouts. I want to go out there and throw nine innings of baseball and give my team a chance to win. For me, with those goals in mind, and I keep working on those, I think I’ll be all right.”
If he achieves those goals this year, it would be difficult for the Indians to deny him a spot in their rotation.
“I don’t know what the Indians have in mind,” House said. “I just know that I need to take care of business here.”
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.
Good thing... It's looking like all three will be seeing time with the the Tribe. Probably sooner than later.