“Josh Tomlin is hot garbage,” they said.
“If we could throw Josh Tomlin into the sun, it would be a good idea,” they said.
“Hey, what if we could freeze Josh Tomlin in carbonite and then throw the carbonite into lava, but then drag it out before it melts and throw it into a woodchipper?” they said.
Bullseye fastballs and yellowhammer curveballs from the hand of Josh Tomlin stymied the Royals. He showed excellent command and consistently cajoled weak contact out of hitters while cruising through a complete game, allowing only a single run on 111 pitches. It is his third complete game against the Royals and fifth all-time.
Tomlin only ran into trouble once in the fifth. Jorge Bonifacio went yard — Tomlin’s homer tax paid — but throughout the rest of the game, we saw vintage excellent Tomlin.
And what is vintage excellent Tomlin, really? It’s like a prized Bordeaux, hard to find but delicious and savory when discovered. It is even more delightful when we recall that Tomlin was a young, promising starter whose early career jumped the tracks with Tommy John surgery. He battled back and found his place in one of the best starting rotations in the entire game. There’s a reason for that. I haven’t looked it up, but I would wager that Tomlin is among the league leaders in 0-2 counts. On his best days, he is Greg Maddux. On his worst days, he’s your local batting cage pitching machine. I’d say that either extreme exists 15% of the time, and the middle 70% is your average major league three or four starter.
Put it this way: there aren’t a lot of fourth starters in baseball that are capable of carrying a one-run game into the seventh on fewer than 90 pitches. As time goes by, I become more and more convinced that the “Josh Tomlin is a good pitcher” hill is one on which I may die, phone with half-written tweet in hand despite an artillery shell ripping my body in half.
We cannot forget the Indians offense, either. Sometimes we do. To date, the Indians numbers slot the near the middle of the American League. We know that they are a top third offense, at least. They have underperformed this season, but today they slapped, slugged, and slammed their way past the Royals.
Three innings drove the Indians offense through the ranks of the Royals defense. In the bottom of the third, Austin Jackson and Roberto Perez set the stage with a single and a walk. Erik Gonzalez sacrificed them over. Jason Kipnis drove in one with a single, while slow Roberto did not cross the plate until Michael Brantley singled. Brantley now owns a 12-game hitting streak. At this point, the Indians owned a 3-0 lead.
The bottom of the fifth stretched it out of reach for the Royals. Brantley singled, stole second, and small-balled his way to third on a wild pitch. A Santana single plated him, and an Edwin Encarnacion single knocked Danny Duffy out of the game. Joe Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice, but redeemed himself by stealing second. This allowed a Jackson sacrifice fly and a Roberto Perez single to drive the score to 6-1.
Did I mention that Jorge Bonifacio hit a homerun in the fifth? No? Well, that’s because it didn’t matter.
The sixth inning also rewarded the Tribe. Your average Wrigley Field bleacher fan might describe the inning by saying, “Eh yo bruh motherfuckers smashed that shit, ahahaha, what a joke the Royals suck HEY grab me another 312 man I’m good for it promise.”
Kipnis doubled. Bradley Zimmer blooped a hit and hustled his way to a double that by all accounts should never have resulted in extra bases. A Santana single and yet another Austin Jackson sac fly put two more on the board. 9-1 would appear to be enough for the Indians, but Jason Kipnis capped of a spectacular day with a home run well up in the bleachers to right center. This wasn’t your ordinary dinger; he picked a slider low and in, stayed down, and golfed it deep. Kipnis is back, and the rest of the American League needs to take notice.
Or not. I wouldn’t mind if they keep letting him go off.
There are other items of note that I could provide. There are social media hot takes and interesting statistical tidbits that I might post. Today, though, I think it’s worth our time to simply acknowledge Tomlin’s start: an old-school, grind it out, shut down your foe performance.
I guess the hypothetical pre-game seance I imagined for him paid off.