BOSTON -- Josh Tomlin stepped out into the rain onto the soggy outfield at Fenway Park and played catch before heading back inside the cozy comforts of the visiting clubhouse. That was as close as the Indians' starter came to pitching on a rainy Sunday afternoon."I just tried to do
BOSTON -- Josh Tomlin stepped out into the rain onto the soggy outfield at Fenway Park and played catch before heading back inside the cozy comforts of the visiting clubhouse. That was as close as the Indians' starter came to pitching on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
"I just tried to do the same thing I did yesterday," he said. "I played catch out to the same distance and did my running and did my pregame stuff in the weight room. After that, it's just another day tomorrow. Same day [as] it would've been today."
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Tomlin shouldn't have weather as an issue when the rainout is made up tonight (6 ET, TBS), given the forecast. With the game called early, he doesn't anticipate any trouble gearing up for his first postseason start again, either.
"It doesn't affect me at all," he said. "I know that I've got to get prepared ... and go out there and win a game. It's part of the game. It happens in the regular season all the time. You go out there and do your normal pregame stuff tonight, and then get ready to pitch [tonight]."
It's a simple approach for Tomlin, just as he took a simple approach when he was briefly taken out of the rotation near the end of August following a rough set of starts. He had a 10-2 record with a 3.34 ERA after beating the Twins on July 17, his 17th start. Eight starts later, he was 11-8 with a 4.89 ERA. The damage that landed him there was startling: 40 earned runs on 59 hits -- including 13 home runs -- over 39 2/3 innings.
The stats showed an increasing reliance on his cutter, from 34 percent of his pitches in April to over 45 percent in August, according to brooksbaseball.net. His fastball usage, in turn, dropped from 44 to 27 percent in that same time frame. Moreover, scouts who watched him over the summer noted some cutters were wandering up in the strike zone.
"I wasn't executing very well in the month of August, and I paid for it," Tomlin said. "With my stuff, it's not overpowering, so when I'm not executing a pitch where I need it to go, it can get hit a long way, or there can be a lot of traffic on the bases. So it was about executing the pitch and having the conviction in those pitches and mixing up my pitches enough to keep them off balance."
After Tomlin gave up four runs on seven hits with just five outs recorded against the Twins on Aug. 30, the Indians pulled him from the rotation to clear his head.
"You can't always tell players stuff they want to hear," manager Terry Francona said Saturday. "But that in no way took away our respect for J.T., we were just trying to help. And we talked through it for a while and we talked again, and then an hour later, after he threw his bullpen, he came in like he always does."
They played cribbage, like they always do, then went to work. Barely a week later, injuries forced him back into the rotation.
Tomlin returned to mixing his pitches more often, this time with a little more use of the sinker. And after a rough August, he closed out his regular season with five earned runs on 20 hits over 25 2/3 innings in his final four starts. The Indians went 3-1 in those outings.
Same stuff, different results. Thus, when the Indians needed a third starter for this series, they could feel like they wanted to go to him rather than just having to.
"The guy has tremendous feel," one AL scout noted. "His success is well-earned."
The Indians feel the same way.
"Nobody wants to have injuries," Francona said, "but the fact that he's going to start a playoff game for us, I think, is very fitting."
Not even the weather will deny him that.
"I think it's going to be a cool moment for me," Tomlin said. "I know it's going to be a packed house and be rowdy and loud. But this is the reason why you play the game, for opportunities and chances like this. I'm going to be happy to be pitching here, especially in the position we're in.
"That's a really good team over there, so winning that game will be tough for us. We're going to go out there and play the best baseball we can."
Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.