Indians fall to 70-51
Regression has been hanging over Josh Tomlin's head for the better part of three years now, and it's hitting him all at once. After a furious start the season, the Indians' fifth starter has not won a game in four August starts, and it's not like his offense was letting him down in any of them -- he has just looked bad. Tonight was no exception, as the 31-year-old was rocked for six earned runs off of nine hits, including three homers.
The Indians were able to erase five of those runs with a big inning, however. The first three batters of the fourth inning -- Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor -- reached via a walk, an error, and a single, respectively. Mike Napoli scored the first run with a sacrifice fly, Jose Ramirez plated another with a single, and Lonnie Chisenhall tied the game with a Chisendinger to deep (and I mean deep) right field.
The optimism of that inning was quickly swept away when Tomlin trotted out onto the field to start the fifth inning. Part of me understands why Tito left Tomlin in -- he looked good in the fourth inning, his first 1-2-3 frame of the game. But he was preparing to face Edwin Encarnarcion, Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki, three batters who can -- and have -- crush home runs balls. Considering Tomlin had already given up two devastating homers earlier in the game, seeing him face Encarnacion was not a good feeling, but Tito apparently had faith in Tomlin to work through the heart of the order.
Tomlin repaid Tito's faith by giving up a solo shot to Encarnacion then walking Tulo two batters later. Dan Otero was mercifully brought in to stop the bleeding and quickly induced a double play to end the inning. From there, the game was a battle of bullpens as Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not want to risk sending Aaron Sanchez out for the fifth inning after his own struggles in the frame prior.
Gibbons' decision paid off. The Indians went down in order in the fifth inning facing reliever Joseph Biagini and were only able to two hits against the entirety of the Blue Jays bullpen -- and one of those, a Francisco Lindor single in the eighth, was wiped out immediately by a double play in the next at-bat.
There was some hope heading into the bottom of the ninth, as superficial as it might have been, because Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin were due up. They were, of course, the heroes of last night's ninth-inning comeback, and sandwiched between them tonight was Lonnie Chisenhall, who already Chisenpowered a ball over the outfield wall and provided a double. Unfortunately, Roberto Osuna was not about to watch Naquin strike two historic poses in as many nights, and he effectively shut down all three batters. Chisenhall went down swinging on a very hard swing that looked like he would have killed it had he been anywhere near it.
Overall, outside of one thrilling inning, the Indians offense looked bad tonight. Aaron Sanchez was at the top of his game before his meltdown -- he carried a no-hitter with the only base runner reaching due to an error through the first three innings.
But hey, at least the Indians avoided a lengthy rain delay and our own Jason Lukehart got to take home second base (even if the weather prevented him from running out on the field and holding it above his head, Ricky Henderson style).
Done in by Mother Nature! Due to the rain, the grounds crew didn't go out, so I couldn't. I DID get a base though. pic.twitter.com/CQ178Kou1W— Jason Lukehart (@JasonLukehart) August 21, 2016
Baseball is a grind, find the silver linings where you can in games like this.