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Tomlin struggles vs. Angels, falls in 2018 debut

April 3, 2018

ANAHEIM -- Angel Stadium shook under the weight of the celebration in the stands, as towering flames burst from the rock pile beyond the center-field wall. While Shohei Ohtani made his way around the bases, Josh Tomlin -- his name now a footnote in the history books -- waited on

ANAHEIM -- Angel Stadium shook under the weight of the celebration in the stands, as towering flames burst from the rock pile beyond the center-field wall. While Shohei Ohtani made his way around the bases, Josh Tomlin -- his name now a footnote in the history books -- waited on the mound for a new baseball.
Tomlin allowed the first home run of Ohtani's Major League career, a three-run blast that served as the fulcrum in a 13-2 loss for the Indians. The Cleveland starter gave up a career-high four home runs, including two during a six-run first inning, in a forgettable outing on a tough night for the Tribe.
"It was just a bad day for me," Tomlin said.
That opening frame was punctuated by Ohtani's homer on a low-and-inside curveball, which the Japanese phenom sent sailing into the right-field seats and into the glove of an Indians fan (who gifted it to a young Angels fan nearby). It was Ohtani's first at-bat in front of his new home crowd and followed his debut as a starting pitcher on Sunday in Oakland.

After Ohtani did not play Monday, he became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to win as a starting pitcher in one game and then start and homer as a non-pitcher in his next game in the same season.
This was Indians manager Terry Francona's first time seeing Ohtani as a hitter. In 2014, Francona was with the MLB All-Stars team that played a series of games in Japan, and that club faced a younger Ohtani as a pitcher.
"Anybody that saw him thought he could pitch in the Major Leagues," Francona said. "That's why teams were lining up for him."
Ohtani went 3-for-4 with two hits against Tomlin, who lasted only three innings. The right-hander equaled a career worst with eight runs allowed, but this was the first time Tomlin yielded that many in no more than three frames. In the draining first inning alone, Tomlin -- known for his precision and efficiency -- toiled through 44 pitches (28 strikes).
Two-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner Michael Trout hit a solo home run two batters into the first inning. Kole Calhoun brought home another run with a single, and Tomlin helped Los Angeles' cause with a run-scoring wild pitch with the bases loaded, just before Ohtani's three-run blast.

Justin Upton and Luis Valbuena each added a home run off Tomlin in the second and third innings, respectively.
"Non-executed. Too much of the plate. Getting behind hitters," Tomlin said of his pitches. "Then, if you do make a mistake, they foul it off. I couldn't put anybody away. I couldn't even get anybody to put the ball in play with weak contact. There was just balls to the heart of the plate or bad pitches that were hung, and they took advantage of it."
Tomlin's showing felt similar to last season, when the veteran opened his season by allowing six runs in his first start. The righty allowed 13 runs over his first two outings a year ago and had a 6.17 ERA on June 1. Over his final 10 outings of the season, though, Tomlin went 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA, and then he pitched well in the postseason.
"It wasn't vintage Tomlin, that's for sure," Francona said. "I don't think he's ever going to make an excuse. I think he had a similar outing last year. He's tough enough to be able to look up and see a high ERA for a little bit, knowing he has to work his way down. But, he will."
Jose stops skid: Prior to Tuesday's game, Francona noted that Jose Ramirez could lean on his track record while dealing with a slump to open the season. In the first, the All-Star third baseman ended his 0-for-15 slide by putting a jolt into a pitch from Angels starter Garrett Richards. Ramirez's shot flew off his bat at 103.5 mph, per Statcast™, and landed in the seats beyond the right-field wall for a two-run homer.

Following Ramirez's shot, Richards held Cleveland to an 0-for-17 showing for the remainder of his 5 2/3 innings. That home run marked the only hit of the night for the Tribe.
"It was so nice to see Jose jump out like that, for a number of reasons," Francona said. "Once he got the runs, [Richards] settled down. You see the velocity, the big breaking ball behind that. It was just too much for us."
First "new home run" at Angel Stadium: The Angels were the beneficiaries of the new lowered right-field-wall boundaries in the first, as Trout launched a 1-1 sinker from Tomlin off the scoreboard for his second home run of the season, which cut the Indians' lead to 2-1. With the home-run boundary lowered by 10 feet, balls no longer have to clear the wall to be considered home runs, though Bradley Zimmer still played Trout's shot off the wall.

"I swung and missed at his first curveball that he threw me, then he bounced one on the wild pitch and we scored a run. So that kind of made me feel more comfortable since we scored. And then, he left a curveball pretty up in the zone, so I was able to swing at it." -- Ohtani, via an interpreter, on the Tomlin pitch he hit for a homer
The Indians' 12-game winning streak against the Angels came to an end, as they lost to the Halos for the first time since June 17, 2014. The dozen straight wins represented the longest winning streak for either team in the history of their matchups (1961-2018).
Indians ace Corey Kluber is scheduled to make his second start of the season on Wednesday, when the Angels host the Tribe in a 4:07 p.m. ET tilt at Angel Stadium. Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, tossed a complete game on Opening Day in Seattle, but he took a hard-luck loss.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.