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Tomlin struggles as Tribe overwhelmed by M's

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin has been unable to shake the struggles that have consumed the first month of his season. The Indians' starter had flashes of finding his rhythm on Sunday, but the troubles of his previous trips to the mound returned in swift and damaging fashion.

In a 10-4 loss to the Mariners, Tomlin surrendered six runs and a pair of home runs, sending Cleveland to its third loss in the four-game set with Seattle. It marked the third time in four starts this season that the right-hander gave up at least five runs and made Tomlin the first Major League pitcher to yield 10 home runs this season.

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CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin has been unable to shake the struggles that have consumed the first month of his season. The Indians' starter had flashes of finding his rhythm on Sunday, but the troubles of his previous trips to the mound returned in swift and damaging fashion.

In a 10-4 loss to the Mariners, Tomlin surrendered six runs and a pair of home runs, sending Cleveland to its third loss in the four-game set with Seattle. It marked the third time in four starts this season that the right-hander gave up at least five runs and made Tomlin the first Major League pitcher to yield 10 home runs this season.

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Indians manager Terry Francona continues to trust, and hope, that Tomlin will sort things out.

"If you run too quick from guys, you don't get the rewards," Francona said. "Now I understand, at some point, maybe you make changes. But I think if you rush to do that, you can make some mistakes."

Video: SEA@CLE: Francona on Tomlin, bullpen's rough day

There are a few factors behind Cleveland sticking by Tomlin as its fifth starter.

First, the Indians have been down this road before with Tomlin, who is the longest-tenured player in the organization. Last year, the righty posted an 8.87 ERA in five April starts, but then straightened things out the rest of the way. In the 21 starts that followed that rough stretch, Tomlin turned in a 4.21 ERA. Over his final 10 outings, he went 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA.

Another issue is a lack of depth behind the Major League rotation. Right-hander Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and lefty Ryan Merritt (left knee) are on the disabled list and remain in extended Spring Training. Cody Anderson is still going through a comeback from Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to be ready until midseason.

Two potential options are pitching prospects Adam Plutko and Shane Bieber, and it is possible one gets the call to start one of the games in Thursday's doubleheader against the Blue Jays. Plutko logged 7 2/3 perfect innings for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday and has a 2.35 ERA in five starts. Bieber (not on the 40-man roster) has a 1.16 ERA with 30 strikeouts and only one walk in 31 innings for Double-A Akron.

For now, it appears Tomlin will get the opportunity to fix what is ailing him on the hill.

"The one thing you always know is, he's not going to give up," Francona said. "He beared down and got us to the point where it was manageable. It didn't work out like we wanted it to, but at least it was manageable."

The Indians' lone breakthrough against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales was a two-run homer off the bat of Brandon Guyer in the second.

Video: SEA@CLE: Guyer lifts a 2-run homer off Gonzales

With the loss, Tomlin dropped to 0-4 with a 9.16 ERA through five appearances on the season. In 18 2/3 innings, Tomlin has given up 20 runs (19 earned) on 32 hits with an average of 4.8 homers per nine innings. For comparison, Cleveland's other four starters have gone 12-4 with a 2.54 ERA and 0.8 home runs per nine innings in 148 2/3 frames combined.

"[You] try to fix it as quick as you can just to try to give your team a chance to win," Tomlin said. "I'm not trying to come up with some magical formula to go eight or nine innings [or pitch a] shutout every single time. It's just the ability to keep the team in the game for as long as I can.

"And then, once those adjustments are made and it comes back and it feels good again, then hopefully you kind of get on a run and you can kind of repeat that day in and day out."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Five-run second: The bulk of the damage against Tomlin came via four consecutive hits with two outs in the second inning, which included a two-run jack by Robinson Cano. Tomlin later yielded a solo shot to Ryon Healy (one of his two homers in the game) in the sixth. In the action in between the Cano and Healy home runs, Tomlin held Seattle to a 2-for-14 showing and felt he corrected some mechanical issues. When he pores over the outing, the pitcher said that will be his area of concentration.

Video: SEA@CLE: Cano belts his 100th home run as a Mariner

"I'm going to try and come back and look at it tomorrow and take the positives out of it," Tomlin said. "And that's it. Try to stop looking at all the things that have been going wrong in the past couple of starts, past three starts or whatever it's been, and try to take the positive out of it."

Bullpen falters late: After the Indians' offense trimmed Seattle's lead to two runs in the seventh, the Tribe bullpen allowed four runs over the final two frames. Healy highlighted a three-run eighth with a homer off Nick Goody and Mitch Haniger added a solo shot off Zach McAllister in the ninth. That gave the Mariners 10 home runs in the past three games in Cleveland.

Video: SEA@CLE: Haniger cranks a solo HR, his 10th of 2018

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, Jose Ramirez drove a pitch from reliever James Pazos deep to left with an exit velocity of 108.2 mph. Left fielder Ben Gamel sprinted to his right and made what looked like an impressive diving catch to halt Cleveland's rally. Upon closer inspection, the ball popped out of Gamel's glove when he hit the ground, and the out call was overturned following a replay review. The result was a two-run double for Ramirez, but that is where the Tribe's push ended.

Video: SEA@CLE: Ramirez 2-run double stands after review

Francisco Lindor tried to score from first on the play, but was sent back to third following the overturned call. Francona discussed that decision with crew chief Mark Wegner, who noted that the placement of the runners was made by the officials at the replay center in New York.

"I just told him that I think we may have got penalized a run because an umpire was a little quick on the call," Francona said. "The kid out there knows he didn't catch it and [third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh] was bringing Frankie all the way. It was hard to understand why we would lose a run there." More >

SOUND SMART
The Indians allowed four home runs on Sunday, marking the second straight game in which the Mariners belted that many homers. It marked the first time since Oct. 3-4, 2009, against the Red Sox that Cleveland pitching allowed at least four homers in consecutive games. That has only happened six times for the Indians against a single opponent, dating back to 1908.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Trevor Bauer (2-2, 2.41 ERA) will look to keep his strong start to the season going on Monday when he throws opposite Cole Hamels (1-4, 4.41 ERA) for the Indians' series opener vs. the Rangers at 6:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Bauer is 12-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 home starts over the 2017-18 seasons.

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.

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