Tomlin tosses a gem, leads Indians past Twins, 4-2
Tribe right-hander picks up where he left off in Columbus, netting a win
CLEVELAND—Josh Tomlin did something Tuesday he hasn’t done in 670 days.
Win a ballgame.
Making his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery back in August of 2012, Tomlin led the Indians past Minnesota Tuesday night, 4-2. The win marked the first victory for the 29 year-old right-hander since July 5, 2012.
“It’s very satisfying,” Tomlin said. “You put in the hard work and you come back from that. There never are any guarantees you will come back from that surgery. To be able to come out here and not have any reservations about the elbow is special.”
Tomlin (1-0, 1.35 ERA) went 6 2/3 quality innings, allowing just one run on four hits, walking one and striking out four. He threw 66 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
“It was pretty special. Just getting back to this level and being able to get a win was a team effort. You still want to maintain keeping the shoulder and elbow strong. There’s still some work to be done.”
Called up from Triple-A Columbus after going 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in five starts with the Clippers, Tomlin didn’t miss a beat in his first outing in the big leagues.
“It feels good,” he said. “Every time you get called up you want to do everything you can to help this team win. I definitely had some anxiety going before the game, but good anxiety. It is the same anxiety I had gotten out there in years past. To be able to go out there and pitch well was pretty special.”
Tomlin takes the spot in the Tribe rotation previously held by the inconsistent Carlos Carrasco (0-3, 6.46 ERA), who was winless in four April starts.
“To see him come out there and perform like he did tonight was awesome” Indians left fielder Michael Brantley said. “Anybody that goes through Tommy John it’s not an easy task. It was a lift for the team, a big start and a big win for us tonight.”
It was Brantley that got things going early for the Tribe offense against Twins starter Samuel Deduno (0-2, 3.42 ERA). After a one out double by Nick Swisher in the first inning, Brantley singled home the first baseman on a RBI single up the middle.
The hit gave Brantley a team-high 24 RBI and a .333 average (11-for-33) with runners in scoring position.
They took advantage of a Twins error two batters later, as David Murphy reached on a defensive miscue by Minnesota first baseman Chris Colabello who had a groundball go through his legs for the Tribe’s second run of the game.
“For us to score early, it was just good to play with a lead,” manager Terry Francona said.
The team notched two more runs off Deduno one inning later. Lonnie Chisenhall led off the frame with a single and advanced to second on a balk by the Twins starter. Yan Gomes took advantage of the opportunity, smacking a RBI double that scored Chisenhall. After two outs, Swisher laced a single through the right side, giving Cleveland a four run lead.
“It’s huge,” Tomlin said. First two innings they put up four runs, and you can go out there and settle in and just throw strikes and let the defense work. That’s what I tried to do.”
It was just the third time in their last 11 games the Indians scored at least four runs.
“I believe hitting is contagious,” Brantley said. “Once one thing goes and another, you start scoring more runs that way. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut. We talked about it and we’re going back to the basics, but we need to do a better job all around as a team.”
That would be all the runs Tomlin needed, surrendering just a solo homer to Colabello in the seventh inning. He left to a standing ovation in front of his home crowd.
“That was exciting,” Francona said. “He loves to compete. We gave him the lead and he did exactly what you’re supposed to do. He threw strikes, used both sides of the plate and worked ahead.”
With a stellar starting pitching performance from Tomlin, Cleveland starters have been great in four consecutive games. As a team, they own a 0.63 ERA, allowing just two earned runs over their last 28 2/3 innings.
“They’ve been throwing the ball well,” Brantley said. “Offensively, we need to step it up and give them more runs. They are keeping us in every game and that’s all you can ask for out of them.”
Southpaw Marc Rzepczynski relieved Tomlin in the seventh, before right-hander Scott Atchison tossed an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth. With John Axford shelved after pitching three days straight, Francona turned to Bryan Shaw in the ninth.
Despite giving up an unearned run on an error by Asdrubal Cabrera, Shaw secured the win notching his first save of the season.
After dropping the first three of four against Minnesota this year, Cleveland (14-19) evens up the four-game series against their division foes.
“The name of the game is to score early,” Brantley said. “We need to do a better job to continue to put pressure on the defense and put runs on the board. We know what it takes, we know how to win ballgames in this locker room, and we need to continue to play good baseball.”
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to make it two in a row Wednesday against Minnesota at 7:05 p.m. Coming off a victory in his last outing, 24-year old Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.93 ERA) gets the start versus Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 5.82 ERA).
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Agree on the Twins offense. Great start by Tomlin, and he can only pitch to the guys that come up, but going to be interesting to see how he does against tougher foes. Gotta love your 5th starter working into the 7th.
And how about Atichison getting some action while the Tribe was ahead? First appearance when the Tirbe wasn't losing and first time pitching in a game the Tribe won. Really hope he is used in more situations like that. Way better than people give him credit for.
Really starting to feel Swisher is the key to this team. Last year he was playing very solid, dare I say plus, defense at 1B. Range may not have been the greatest but did a great job at saving errors from the other infielders. This year has been a complete 180. Mental errors, balls thru the legs, not coming off the bag as well to save an infielder's throw....just looks like a completely different person. He needs to improve both offensively and defensively. Had a very good September last year and helped carry the Tribe to that great finish. Need him to play like we know he can...team leader that needs to step up.
Rick Manning being negative....what else is new? Can't recall a time when he wasn't basing the Tribe (still think he's bitter that he isn't a coach/manager)....
We need to get the Indians' pitchers "stretched out" to pitch four outs per inning rather than three.
Rick Manning is definitely losing patience with the errors. They're not supposed to critisize the team but he can no longer muzzle himself.
Nick Swisher should trade in that iron glove and try a leather one. But at least he hit the ball hard four times so that's encouraging.
I like Jose Ramirez's defense at 2nd base and he finally hit a line drive. Keep him in the lineup until Kipnis is ready.
Big game for Salazar tonight as he tries to build on a successful outing last time.
Lonnie taking ground balls at 1B.. Lonnie shagging some flies.. all good signs.. Lonnie continuing to bash the ball all over the park.. great sign..
Five winning performances in a row for the starting pitching staff keeping the earned runs and walks to winning levels:
5.0IP 3ER's 3BB's 6K's (Salazar)
7.0 IP 0ER's 1BB's 6K's (Masterson)
8.0 IP 1ER's 1BB's 13K's (Kluber)
6.2 IP 0ER's 1BB's 8K's (McAllister)
6.2 IP 1ER's 1BB's 4K's (Tomlin)
5 earned runs in 33.1 IP (1.35 ERA) 7 BB's and 37 K's..pretty damn impressive..
Tony, is there any chance the Tribe gets in on Morales on June 1 ? Someone has to energize this offence,and he might be a good addition, especially from the right side.
Defense was brutal again, two strikeouts yet the batter makes it to first, in consecutive innings. Then the game ending play is booted, and we make it closer than necessary again.
I hope the front office just leaves Tomlin up here and Tito keeps him in the rotation. He is a keeper...