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Second Thoughts Game #55: Rockies 4, Indians 6

Bourn's walk-off blast completes sweep for Tribe

Second Thoughts Game #55: Rockies 4, Indians 6
Michael Bourn hits his first career walk-off home run as the Indians defeat the Rockies 6-4. (Photo: Chuck Crow)
June 2, 2014
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The Indians are slowly but surely making up ground in the division as they have now climbed out of the cellar and passed up the Royals for fourth place. They are now within two games of the Twins and White Sox and six games behind the division-leading Tigers after completing a three-game sweep of Colorado on Sunday.

Michael Bourn was the hero as he gave the Tribe the victory with a two-run walk-off homer. Josh Tomlin was solid over five and two-thirds innings giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits with eight strikeouts against only one walk.

Player of the Game: Michael Bourn (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, K)

Part of the Indians' unique identity last season during their playoff run was not having to rely on any one player to come through when they needed it most. That trend returned on Sunday as Michael Bourn became the latest unlikely hero with a two-run walk-off home run to complete the sweep of the Rockies.

The blast was the first walk-off homer of his career and marked the fourth walk-off of the season for the Tribe. Bourn has been one of the Tribe's better hitters as of late batting over .300 since the start of May, scoring and driving in 11 runs in that span. However, it would be nice to see some more aggressiveness as he has only stolen two bases in that time.

Who is Josh Tomlin?

There's no argument that Josh Tomlin has been a solid addition to the rotation since he was called up. The right-hander has gone 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA in six games (five starts). In 32.1 innings of work, he has racked up 30 strikeouts, which puts his strikeouts-per-nine-innings at a career-high 8.4 rate.

The reason why I continue to temper my expectations with him, however, is that he continues to allow home runs at a concerning rate. He has now allowed one long-ball in each of his outings thus far after serving up a two-run shot to Corey Dickerson in the second inning on Sunday. I will say despite the homers, Tomlin has done an admirable job of working around them and limiting the damage.

So who is Josh Tomlin? It may still be too early to tell, but as of right now, he's a guy who will throw strikes, give up hits and home runs, but will limit the damage with a recent increase in strikeouts.

Up next: Red Sox (27-29) vs. Indians (27-30) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.

Here are two teams in very similar situations: playoff contenders in 2013 who have had bouts with inconsistency to start this season. However, both are making strides to climb back into the race in their respective divisions. The Red Sox are currently riding a seven-game win streak while the Tribe is coming off a three-game sweep of Colorado. Justin Masterson will take on his former team as he looks to get back on track. In his career, Masterson is 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA against Boston.

John Lackey is coming off back-to-back shutout starts where he pitched into the seventh inning. He only earned the win in his most recent outing against Atlanta. On the year, the veteran right-hander is 6-3 with a 3.27 ERA. Against the Indians, he is 7-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 17 career starts.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

June 2, 2014 - 5:47 PM EDT
GSon, your definitions for command and control aren't actually the common definitions of those terms in baseball. Control references strike-throwing ability. Command refers to the ability to hit spots. So, Tomlin, his control is good, he doesn't walk many, but he misses in the zone a lot (thus the home runs), so his command is what's average.
June 2, 2014 - 4:18 PM EDT
Tomlin is similar to Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo, Both of those pitchers have had success. I do see Tomlin having the same results.

June 2, 2014 - 4:02 PM EDT
Weighing in..

Tomlin's stuff is major league average to slightly below..

Tomlin's control is major league average..

Tomlin's command is major league elite.

For those wondering (I know you're reading this Hermie).. Command describes the pitcher's (Josh Tomlin in this case) ability to consistently execute any one of his pitches.. Control describes Josh's ability to locate any pitch at any given time.. They are not interchangeable. That's why Josh is successful. Major League hitters.. are smart and capable.. There will always be times when the hitter gets the best of the pitcher. Look at what the SF Giants did to Michael Wacha over the weekend (my opponent in FF Baseball got slaughtered because of that one outing)..It's a matter of confidence and skill.. Tomlin has it.. So does Kluber.. Bauer does, sometimes.. Therein lies the difference between these pitchers...

C L Who
June 2, 2014 - 3:57 PM EDT
Tomlin is a #4 or #5 innings eater. I give him credit for holding the Rox to just one bomb, given that they lead the league in HR. Still, prior to yesterday's game he was giving up 1.7 HR / 9 vs. 1.8 for Salazar vs. 0.9 for Masterson.

I don't agree that Tomlin (or any pitcher) can intentionally "work around" the damage done by a home run. Yes, a pitcher can keep runners off base, but runners do get on....sometimes errors happen (especially in the 2014 Tribe infield), and a home run can happen when there are 1, 2 or 3 runners on. Tomlin was unlucky that yesterday's bomb was not a solo, but lucky there weren't two on.

In his best year his ERA was 4.14....good, but not outstanding. Even though his velocity is less, he seems to pitch better now, but at year's end he'll probably finish around 4.00. Good but not great. He might end the year better than Masterson though, so kudos to Josh.
June 2, 2014 - 3:03 PM EDT
Also, Shy, have you seen Corey Kluber pitch? Josh Tomlin does not have the best control of any Indians pitcher.
June 2, 2014 - 3:02 PM EDT
Tomlin has not gained a couple ticks of velocity. In 2012, he was averaging 89.5 on his fastball and 86.1 on his cutter. This year, he's at 88.5 and 84.9. So, he's actually lost a little velocity compared to what he was at in 2012, and is pretty much at his career averages. I don't think the strikeout rate is sustainable, he hasn't seen a big swinging strike increase
June 2, 2014 - 1:40 PM EDT
Tomlin's strikeout rate this season is 71% higher than his career rate. Looks like the Tommy John surgery helped him. That much of an increase is not a normal variation.

Yes, he still gives up too many dingers, so he has to keep runners off base. The TV announcers made the point that the opponents #3 and #4 hitters are batting over .500 against him while the other seven hitters are at .127.

He might have to be more careful with the big boppers and nibble against them, even if it means giving up a couple more walks.
June 2, 2014 - 1:36 PM EDT
I've been a Tomlin fanboy since the day the Tribe drafted him. Always had a soft spot for pitchability overachievers. I think bottom line he's a MOR, a solid SP3 or a strong SP4, who most overlook and will only go as far as giving him ok BOR credit because of his lack of stuff, which has improved btw. He gained a couple of ticks on his fastball (89-91) and his curveball was a thing of beauty yesterday.

There's so much to like about Tomlin. He will never dominate a lineup, but he trusts his ability, has a short memory and will get outs and will give the team a chance to win the game. That's a MOR to me, but that's semantics. Just leave him in the rotation the next 2.5 years.
June 2, 2014 - 1:35 PM EDT
Did anyone miss Santana behind the plate yesterday? Has anyone noticed a big offensive difference without his bat in the lineup lately? I would be more than happy having Kottaras giving Gomes a day off and find a trading partner for Santana.
June 2, 2014 - 12:52 PM EDT
I don't think you're giving Tomlin enough credit, which is just fine. He has the best control of any Indians pitcher- he can paint the corners as well as anyone I can remember playing for the Indians. That said, his top end velocity is not high enough to get batters committing early and chasing pitches out of the zone, so on the rare occurrences when he does hang a fat one, the batter may well have an opportunity to lock in and connect. He comes right back though- the slips are the anomaly not the syndrome. At the end of the day, look at the ERA, the quality starts and the wins. I think the catcher and the rest of the guys are pretty comfortable and confident when he's out there. The Rockies can hit the ball- whatever park they're playing in. I think they were challenged hard and sent home beaten by Kluber, Bauer and Tomlin

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