CLEVELAND -- The Indians have been down this road with Josh Tomlin in the past, but it does not make things any easier to handle in the moment.In a 10-3 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night, Tomlin's history of being prone to home runs once again hindered Cleveland. The
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have been down this road with Josh Tomlin in the past, but it does not make things any easier to handle in the moment.
In a 10-3 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night, Tomlin's history of being prone to home runs once again hindered Cleveland. The right-hander surrendered four homers, including two to Kyle Schwarber, in an abbreviated outing that dug an early hole and led to the end of the Tribe's modest three-game win streak.
"There's a lot of trust with his desire and everything to be what he needs to be," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Tomlin. "He'll get after it. He'll figure it out. And he won't be alone."
Over 3 2/3 innings, Tomlin was charged with five runs, which included solo home runs by Ian Happ and Willson Contreras in addition to Schwarber's shots. It marked the second time this season Tomlin yielded four home runs in an outing, having also done so on April 3 against the Angels.
Complicating matters on Tuesday night was the Tribe lineup's inability to mount much against Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood. The righty lasted six-plus innings for Chicago and dodged the potential damage that could have surfaced in light of his five walks issued. The Indians' only breakthrough against Chatwood came via a run-scoring groundout from Jason Kipnis in the third.
Tomlin, who entered the night averaging 1.6 homers per nine innings in his career, has given up eight blasts in 12 2/3 innings this season. For comparison, Cleveland's top four starting pitchers (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger) have allowed 10 homers combined in 124 1/3 innings.
All four of the home runs by the Cubs came on pitches in the middle third of the strike zone and off each of Tomlin's pitches. Schwarber tagged a 2-1 changeup for Chicago's first homer in the second, and he later crushed a 2-0 curve in the fourth. Contreras belted a 1-2 cutter from Tomlin for his third-inning homer, and Happ went the opposite way with a 2-1 fastball over the outside edge in the fourth.
"I'm making too many of those mistakes," said Tomlin, referring to pitches over the heart of the plate. "I've got to either make an adjustment quicker than what I'm making or change what I'm doing out there in the moment, try something different at that time. Definitely, what I'm doing right now is not working, so it's something that needs to be addressed."
Tomlin said he would begin poring over video footage of his start on Wednesday, and then the righty will get to work on the identified issues with pitching coach Carl Willis.
Through four appearances this season, Tomlin now has a 9.24 ERA. The right-hander endured a similarly rough start to last year, when he posted an 8.87 ERA in five starts in April. Over his next 21 outings in 2017, Tomlin went 8-6 with a 4.21 ERA, including going 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA in his final 10 turns (55 innings).
"It kind of started out the same last year," Francona said. "It seems like right now when he makes a mistake, catching too much of the plate, and he's paying the price for it right now."
One issue for the Indians at the moment is the fact that right-hander Danny Salazar and lefty Ryan Merritt -- considered the next two arms on the rotation depth chart -- remain on the disabled list. Both pitchers are in extended spring camp working through their respective throwing programs, with Merritt appearing closer to a Minor League rehab assignment.
In the meantime, Tomlin will continue to fight his way out of his early-season slump.
"The good side of it is, knowing Tomlin, he's going to figure it out," Francona said. "He and Carl will get back at it tomorrow, and he's not going to shortchange anybody on effort. We know that."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the third inning, when the Cubs held a 3-1 lead, Jose Ramirez singled to right field with two outs, and Rajai Davis tried to score from second on the play. Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward made a strong throw to Contreras, who applied the tag as Davis slid across the plate headfirst for the rally-ending out. The Indians challenged the out call, but it stood following a replay review.
Francona noted that Davis looked toward right field while rounding third, creating the slightest hesitation that likely cost him on the sprint home.
"He always gives you good effort," Francona said. "He kind of looked over his shoulder a little bit. And we like when they know where the ball is, but I think it might have been the difference of him scoring."
Davis -- a veteran of 13 Major League seasons -- knew his mistake.
"It's a refresher," Davis said. "This is the big leagues. You've got to run -- that's it. Just got a reminder. That's all it is."
Schwarber's first home run of the night off Tomlin included an exit velocity of 117.1 mph, per Statcast™. That represented the fifth-hardest homer in the Majors this season and the hardest hit by a Cubs batter since Statcast™ began tracking the statistic in 2015.
HE SAID IT
"Watching those guys go out there and compete and do well, it's fun for me. I enjoy every minute of it. And I will continue to enjoy every minute, whether I throw 15 scoreless innings or whether I give up another 15 runs. That's never going to change. That's never going to waver. It's about trying to get this team to win first, and wherever my stats may be at the end of the year, let them be. But if we end up where we want to end up -- in the playoffs -- I'm fine with that." --Tomlin, on the success of Cleveland's other starters
Right-hander Bauer is scheduled to take the mound for the Indians on Wednesday, when they host the Cubs in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Bauer is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 21 career Interleague appearances. Chicago will counter with veteran lefty Jonathan Lester.
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 Facebook.