Second Thoughts Game #138: Tigers 11, Indians 4
Big innings bookend loss for Tribe as Tigers take series
Detroit's hitters didn't bother to take much time to congratulate new father Josh Tomlin on Thursday night as they tagged him for five runs in a seven-run 11th inning, which allowed the Tigers to clinch the series win with an 11-4 victory.
Trevor Bauer's first-inning struggles continued as he allowed four runs to start the game before settling in and pitching five and two-thirds innings. The bullpen then came in and pitched four and a third shutout innings, which allowed the Tribe to chip away and tie the game at four and send the game into extras.
Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes inflicted the majority of the damage for the Tribe driving in three of the four runs while Lonnie Chisenhall extended his recent hot streak at the plate with a 1-for-4 performance with an RBI on Thursday as he is now batting .406 in his last 10 games.
First Inning Woes
It feels like whenever we've talked about a start by Trevor Bauer this season, it seems like it's always preceded by "Aside from the first inning..." Once again, the young right-hander struggled out of the gates on Thursday as the Tigers batted around once and then some in the first inning while plating four runs in the process. Afterward, he settled in to pitch four and two-thirds shutout innings, which also has been a common theme this season.
In the first inning this season, Bauer owns a 6.55 ERA. However, during the rest of the game, his ERA is 3.61. This, once again by his own admission, is a problem that has plagued the right-hander since his collegiate days.
Indians skipper Terry Francona admitted in his postgame press conference that while Bauer has come a long way this season in developing as a pitcher at the big league level, he still needs to learn how to simplify his game plan in the early innings. Of course, as an engineering major and a student of pitching mechanics, it may be easier said than done.
Hopefully this is just a temporary setback, however, as the right-hander has shown improvement over the last month posting a 3.34 ERA in six starts in August with 35 strikeouts in 35 innings of work, including a .216 opposing batting average, which is the lowest mark of the season.
After a brief rough stretch, Michael Brantley is right back on track of putting up career-best numbers this season as he notched a pair of doubles and an RBI on Thursday.
The Tribe left-fielder has now posted a new career high in yet another offensive category as he has now clubbed 39 doubles this season. His power surge has been probably the most prominent development this season as he now has 59 total extra base hits and a .496 slugging percentage.
In his last 10 games, Brantley is batting .326 with six doubles and six RBI. He now owns an eight-game hit streak and continues to be the Indians' best hitter with runners in scoring position this season with a .356 mark in such situations.
It wouldn't surprise me if he got some MVP votes after the season ends, especially if the team manages to make a serious playoff push. There's no arguing that he has been the most valuable player for the Tribe this season as he has set the tone in all areas of play. When he has played well, he has led and sometimes carried the team while the times where he has scuffled have usually coincided with poor stretches for the team.
Will he win the award? Probably not, but depending on how the Indians finish, his name could come up a lot in the discussion.
When discussing consistent elements of the Indians this season, fans may think of Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, but right up there with all of them, albeit in a less notable role, has been veteran reliever Scott Atchison, who has put together the best season of his career since signing a minor league deal with the Tribe this offseason.
In addition to being on the receiving end of countless old man jokes from his teammates and fans, Atchison has still managed to go 6-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 62 appearances. He has now become a key part of the bullpen and has earned himself a contract extension through next season.
On Thursday, the 38-year-old allowed a hit and walked a batter, but kept the Tigers at bay during a shutout inning of work with a strikeout. In his last 10 appearances, Atchison has only allowed one run in 11 innings-pitched. Since the All-Star break, the right-hander has posted a 2.16 ERA in 23 appearances.
Up Next: White Sox (-) vs. Indians (71-67) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.
A pair of lefties will square off at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario on Friday with one being the All-Star and Cy Young candidate ace in Chris Sale for Chicago and the other being the up-and-coming rookie southpaw for the Tribe in T.J. House.
House is coming off the best start of his young career against Kansas City in the bizarre rain-suspended game that has yet to be completed. In two starts against the White Sox, House has not earned a decision, but has allowed six runs in 11 innings of work. Sale is 4-2 with a 1.91 ERA in his last 10 starts and is 1-0 in two starts against the Tribe this season.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
My perception is that TF is using him late because the other option is not to use him at all. Tomlin certainly is no late inning pitcher.
I wish TF would try letting relievers pitch for more than 1 out......lefty-right is overrated, and it would provide a much needed rest for the pen guys who didn't pitch.
I think it was Jason Stanford who noted after the game on STO last night that Tomlin as a starter can give up a couple runs and not have it be a big deal whereas giving up even one run as a reliever could mean everything. While he may not offer all that much upside as a starter, I agree with Tony and Art that he is bet suited to remain in a starting rotation, whether it be here or in Columbus.
As for the performance of Tomlin, I wondered why Francona went to him so early. Why not go back to Atchison for another inning? Yes, he got in some trouble the previous inning, but he worked out of it and only threw 20 pitches. What about going to Crockett or Rzepczynski? Both of those guys have made a combined one appearance this month. Now, if you have to go to Tomlin in the 13th or 14th inning, then fine.....but I thought Francona mismanaged that decision last night (He's done an overly excellent job all year at handling the pitchers.....the lineup is another thing entirely lol).
Tomlin is looking like a guy who will stick around next year but as starting depth in AAA only. The Indians will need 7-8 starters and he and McAlister right now both have options and both could open in Columbus as depth. In fact, if everyone is healthy, that is exactly what will happen. There is no need to have Tomlin in the bullpen. His value is as a depth starter only.
But props to this team for battling back when it was 4-0 in the first. I felt by coming back that had they won the game it would be a signature win for them considering how they came back from the blown save with two wins and split the series. But now this might be a signature loss. They are not mathematically out of it, but you can't lose 3 of 4 to the team you are chasing this late in the season. This series hurt. As GSon correctly noted, the Indians no longer can focus on just winning series....they have to start sweeping teams. They almost need an 19-5 or better stretch to end the season to have any shot and even that might not be enough.