Josh Tomlin hadn't start an MLB game in almost two years, but he didn't show any signs of rust, nerves, or anything else you might expect a pitcher in his position to feel, and he carried the Indians to a much-needed win Tuesday night at Progressive Field. The Little Cowboy began the game with 6.1 shutout innings before allowing a home run to left-center field. After an infield single and fly-ball out in foul territory, his night was over. The final line: 6.2 innings, 1 run on 4 hits and 1 walk, with 4 strikeouts. Yep, that'll work.
As a nice change of pace, the Tribe offense got on the board early. Nick Swisher doubled in the 1st, then scored on a single by Michael Brantley, who also crossed the plate when a David Murphy ground ball went between the wickets on Minnesota first baseman Chris Colabello. In the 2nd, Lonnie Chisenhall led things off with a single, advanced to second on a balk, and scored on a double by Yan Gomes. Gomes scored two batters later, when Swisher drove him in with a single.
Of course, not wanting to get carried away, the Indians collected only one more hit the entire game. Carlos Santana went 0 for 4, dropping his batting average to .144, which is really something.
Marc Rzepczynski and Scott Atchison each made a scoreless appearance, and with John Axford having pitched in three games in a row (and given up game-losing home runs in the last two), Bryan Shaw came on for the save. It must be noted that Atchison and Shaw each had their inning of work made more difficult by the Tribe defense, which continues to make errors at an historic pace.
In the 8th inning it was Yan Gomes, who made a bad throw to first base on a dropped strike three, allowing the runner to reach safely. That was Yan's first error as a father, and gives him 8 on the season already, which "leads" all catchers (no one else has more than 5). With two outs in the 9th, Asdrubal Cabrera couldn't handle an easy grounder. The next man doubled, making it a 2-run game and bringing the tying run to the plate. Fortunately Cabrera was able to handle the next hitter's lazy fly ball, ending the game in a breezy 2 hours and 28 minutes.
The wins improves the Indians' record to 14-19, which is still bad, but a little less bad than it was before the game started. Tomlin's performance gives the Tribe rotation four starts in a row with at least 6.2 innings and no more than one run allowed. It's a shame Axford and the lineup have conspired to give the team only two wins over that time, but if the rotation keeps pitching well, the wins will come.
The series continues Wednesday night with Danny Salazar and Ricky Nolasco facing off. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET.
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