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Tomlin's emergence stabilizing Tribe rotation

Right-hander throws six innings of two-run ball on just 72 pitches vs. Reds
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Indians starter Josh Tomlin went through his windup and delivered an 0-2 cutter to Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. The result was a swinging strike on a pitch middle away that gave Tomlin his sixth consecutive strikeout.

Known to be a fly-ball pitcher, Tomlin's six straight strikeouts -- the only strikeouts he recorded all night -- were the highlight of an overall strong outing for the Tribe right-hander, as he helped the Indians retain the Ohio Cup in a 6-2 victory Monday night.

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CLEVELAND -- With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Indians starter Josh Tomlin went through his windup and delivered an 0-2 cutter to Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. The result was a swinging strike on a pitch middle away that gave Tomlin his sixth consecutive strikeout.

Known to be a fly-ball pitcher, Tomlin's six straight strikeouts -- the only strikeouts he recorded all night -- were the highlight of an overall strong outing for the Tribe right-hander, as he helped the Indians retain the Ohio Cup in a 6-2 victory Monday night.

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"I never try to get strikeouts," Tomlin said. "I don't know how people can get as many as the [Corey] Klubers of the world, but it was kind of nice to get those, for sure."

With the Indians currently using a six-man rotation that will likely dwindle down to five in the coming weeks, Tomlin is pitching to maintain a spot among the starters, and he has delivered over his last few turns. Including Monday, Tomlin has gone 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his last three starts. In 20 1/3 innings in those starts, he has allowed 14 hits and has only issued one walk while striking out 17.

"When [Tomlin's] going good," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "that's what he can do."

Tomlin's solid start ended after six innings, during which he allowed two runs on four hits while walking one to earn his seventh win of the season. The only blemishes on Tomlin's line came on home runs he allowed to Scooter Gennett in the fifth and Cozart in the sixth.

"I think it was just the execution of pitches," Tomlin said. "That's a pretty good hitting team over there. I think the two pitches I didn't execute were hit for home runs and the other ones were hit pretty hard in the gap somewhere and our defense made great plays on them."

"One walk, had a little run there where he got a little strikeout happy, six in a row," Francona added. "But he works ahead, we give up the solo [home run], as we saw. Those were six really good innings. [He] doesn't let things rattle him."

A big key to Tomlin's success against the Reds was his cutter. Per Statcast™, 25 of Tomlin's 72 pitches on the night were cutters, resulting in six swinging strikes and a called strike.

"He was pounding the strike zone," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "We kept guys off balance and we finished guys with cutters. Back-door cutters, and down and away. He was really good today."

Tomlin's performance came on a night where Indians first baseman Carlos Santana belted two homers to lead an offense which banged out nine hits. Tomlin was sure to mention the offense in his postgame presser.

Video: CIN@CLE: Santana homers from both sides vs. the Reds

"My game is people putting the ball in play, so I'm prone to the home run," Tomlin said. "So for me to have that extra cushion is huge, just to go out there and pound the strike zone, keep the ball in the yard, and miss the barrel as much as I can because that offense is liable to explode at any point. So if you can just keep them at bay as long as you can, the offense has a chance to explode, then you end up winning the game."

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland and covered the Indians Monday.

Cleveland Indians, Josh Tomlin