Gomes' throws help Tribe improve against baserunners
CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes has cut down baserunners so well this season that an errant throw makes one wonder if something is wrong with the young catcher.
Such was the case in the Tribe's 7-2 loss to the Angels on Saturday, when Gomes threw wildly beyond second base for an uncharacteristic error. Erick Aybar was credited with a stolen base of second and advanced easily to third as the ball rifled up the middle by Gomes bounced into center field.
"He said he took his time to throw that ball and that jacked him up," Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. said Sunday morning. "The guy took a decent jump, but [Gomes] had enough time. He kind of slowed himself down and you can't do that. You have to do it the same way every time."
With the rare exception, Gomes has been consistent in that regard for the Tribe this year.
Entering Sunday's game against Los Angeles, Gomes paced the American League with a 52 percent caught-stealing rate, having thrown out 13 runners in 25 attempts in his 51 games played. That success rate is double the league average of 26 percent.
"His feet are the key. His footwork is unbelievable," said Alomar, who spent 20 seasons as a catcher in the big leagues. "He's been consistent all year. I know he's not playing the amount of games like a starting catcher, but he's been impressive. He works at it. I love when guys ask questions, and he's been a guy that's done that all the time."
Alomar noted that Gomes' throws to second base have routinely been timed at 1.85 seconds or faster since Spring Training. The bench coach noted that the only difference between the preseason and now is that Gomes has reduced the amount of movement on the ball. Alomar said the catcher had some sink on his throws early in the year.
"His throws are firm and accurate now," Alomar said.
Last season, the Indians allowed an American League-high 140 stolen bases, which was the third-highest total in baseball. Gomes -- acquired from the Blue Jays in an offseason trade -- has helped Cleveland improve in that area this season. Entering Sunday, the Tribe had yielded 60 stolen bases, which was the seventh-best mark in the AL.
"He's always had arm strength," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His transfer is just boom, boom. From his glove to when he lets it go is so quick. And he's so straight to second. It's a rarity. You can work on stuff like that, which they do, and Sandy's great with it, but he has it. I don't know if you can just give that to somebody."