ARLINGTON -- Cole Hamels has put himself into the thick of the American League Cy Young Award discussion with a stellar second half. That continued on Thursday night, when the Rangers' ace overpowered the Indians, and the offense was equally as potent, in a 9-0 victory in the opener of
ARLINGTON -- Cole Hamels has put himself into the thick of the American League Cy Young Award discussion with a stellar second half. That continued on Thursday night, when the Rangers' ace overpowered the Indians, and the offense was equally as potent, in a 9-0 victory in the opener of the four-game set between division leaders.
Over eight innings, Hamels baffled the AL Central-leading Tribe, which managed just a pair of singles and struck out eight times against the lefty. Backing Hamels' strong outing were a pair of three-run home runs -- one apiece for Carlos Gómez and Adrián Beltré off Indians starter Josh Tomlin. Gomez's shot in the second came in his first at-bat with Texas, which signed him on Saturday.
"Especially at this time in the year, these are important games," Hamels. "When you're able to come home for that first game, you want to set the tone, and I think that's what we were really focused on tonight. [The Indians] are a good hitting team. ... You just want to try and get ahead."
Dating back to the All-Star break, Hamels has turned in a 1.59 ERA with a .212 opponents' batting average and 58 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings for the Rangers, who have a 7 1/2-game lead over Seattle in the AL West.
Tomlin was charged with eight runs (seven earned) in 4 1/3 innings and now has a 7.51 ERA across his past nine outings. Cleveland had its lead trimmed to 4 1/2 games over Detroit in the Central.
"I don't think the line looks very good. I thought his stuff was better than that," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Tomlin. "Like I kind of told these guys, sometimes you've just got to fight through it. It's probably unrealistic that you don't get tested through a long year. We'll fight through it together."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gomez lifts off in debut: Gomez launched the second pitch he saw in his Rangers debut into the left-field seats for a three-run home run to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the second, his fifth homer of the season. The line-drive home run came off of Gomez's bat at an estimated 107 mph and traveled 415 feet, per Statcast™. It was Gomez's first home run since July 17.
"This is a five-tool player that can impact the game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He's hungry. He wants to prove to the baseball world that he's still a very relevant player in this game."
Homer prone: Tomlin has had a propensity for giving up home runs throughout his career, but the righty has struggled to minimize the damage around the blasts of late. Over his first 15 starts, Tomlin allowed 25 runs on 19 homers (13 solo shots). In the nine starts since that stretch, he has given up 30 runs on 15 homers (six solos). Tomlin now leads the Majors with 34 home runs allowed this season.
"We take pride in trying to be the backbone of the team," said Tomlin, referring to the rotation. "Right now, the past few turns I've been out there, I haven't really given our team a chance to win. That's something where I've got to go back to the drawing board, try to get better and try to help this team win."
Beltre breaks it open: Beltre capped a five-run fifth inning with his 22nd long ball of the year. He is now alone at No. 45 on the all-time home run list with 435, passing former Rangers Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones. The three RBIs also tied him with Fred McGriff at No. 44 on the all-time RBI list with 1,550.
"[Beltre's] a future Hall of Famer, it's special to watch," Banister said. "I love seeing it every night. I look forward to what he's going to do for this ballclub and for himself."
Lucroy vs. Cleveland: This marked the first meeting between the Indians and catcher Jonathan Lucroy since he blocked a trade -- per his contractual right -- that would have brought him to Cleveland prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Against the Tribe, the catcher ignited a three-run second with a two-out single, and he helped guide Hamels through his overpowering performance.
"Look, baseball is baseball," Lucroy said. "We're out there playing and I honestly don't care who's in the other dugout. I'm going to go and give it all I got every single game, no matter who's in that other dugout.
"I think collectively, as an organization and as a team, we moved on pretty fast from that," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis added. "The only reason we could be mad at him is because he's a good player and we wanted him to play for our team. If it goes past that, there's personal stuff, and no one has any of that."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 34 blasts allowed by Tomlin are the most in a season by an Indians pitcher since 1998, when Charles Nagy also gave up 34. Only Jim Perry (35 in 1960) and Luis Tiant (37 in 1969) have given up more in one season in a Cleveland uniform. Tomlin's rate of 2.1 homers allowed per nine innings is the highest in one year in franchise history (minimum 80 innings).
The Indians have scored one run or fewer in four straight games for the first time since June 11-14, 2011, when they scored two runs in a four-game stretch. Prior to Thursday's game in Texas, Cleveland scored one run in each of its previous three games in Oakland.
Hamels' eight shutout innings were the most by a Texas pitcher since Colby Lewis spun a shutout against the A's on Sept. 11, 2015.
Indians: Ace Corey Kluber (13-8, 3.13 ERA) is slated to take the mound for Cleveland in an 8:05 p.m. ET clash with the Rangers on Friday night at Globe Life Park. Dating back to the start of June, Kluber has gone 9-2 with a 2.34 ERA, .202 opponents' average and 98 strikeouts in 96 innings. The righty has a 1.78 ERA over his past eight turns for the Tribe.
Rangers:Martin Pérez (8-9, 4.27 ERA) will get the start for the Rangers in the second game of their series with the Indians, at 7:05 p.m. CT Friday. Perez leads the American League with a 2.36 ERA through 13 home starts, and the Rangers are 12-5 in his last 17 outings.
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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.
Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.