Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Indians show fight, can't pick up scuffling Tomlin @MLBastian

NEW YORK -- A few hours before his start against the Yankees on Friday night, Josh Tomlin took a seat in the office of manager Terry Francona and the pair played cards. Tomlin is a favorite of Francona, who will praise the pitcher's many attributes that do not show up in the numbers.

The issue facing the Indians right now is that the numbers are impossible to ignore.

View Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- A few hours before his start against the Yankees on Friday night, Josh Tomlin took a seat in the office of manager Terry Francona and the pair played cards. Tomlin is a favorite of Francona, who will praise the pitcher's many attributes that do not show up in the numbers.

The issue facing the Indians right now is that the numbers are impossible to ignore.

View Full Game Coverage

In a 7-6 loss to the Yankees, the Indians staged a late comeback bid, but Tomlin's troubles persisted in the form of three damaging home runs. The righty gave his team seven innings -- helping save some tired arms in the bullpen in the wake of Thursday's doubleheader -- but it proved more admirable than effective.

"He kept us right there and gave us a chance, my goodness," Francona said. "They just keep playing. And I know I say it all the time, but when you get in games like that, they're hard games to win, but -- even on the road -- I'll be sitting here some night and saying we won one of those games."

In the eighth inning, a three-run homer by Bradley Zimmer and a two-run shot from Jose Ramirez quieted the Bronx crowd momentarily and effectively canceled out the five runs charged to Tomlin's line. The Yankees and Indians each tacked on a run leading to the bottom of the ninth, when Miguel Andujar delivered a walk-off single against closer Cody Allen.

Video: CLE@NYY: Zimmer, Ramirez mash homers for 5-run 8th

An error by shortstop Francisco Lindor opened the door for New York's powerful lineup in a four-run fourth inning, but Tomlin could not apply the clamp. The starter surrendered a three-run homer to Gleyber Torres (his first career shot) and a solo blast to Aaron Judge. One frame later, Gary Sanchez launched a projected 461-foot drive, per Statcast™, to Yankee Stadium's left-field stands.

The three homers upped Tomlin's Major League-high total to 13 allowed on the season, and he has done so in 25 2/3 innings. Against the Yankees, Tomlin was charged with five runs (four earned) on eight hits with two walks, four strikeouts and one hit-by-pitch. Through six appearances, Tomlin has an 8.06 ERA with an opponents' batting average of .339.

"I understand the aspect of, if you don't turn the corner, what could happen," Tomlin said. "But that never creeps in my mind when I'm on the field or off the field, or anything like that. It's out of my control. Whatever decision they decide to make, my job is to take the ball whenever I'm told to pitch and go out there and give my team a chance to win."

One option for Cleveland with Tomlin is to put the right-hander in the bullpen temporarily. With team off-days looming on Monday and Thursday, the Indians do not need a fifth starter again until May 15 against the Tigers. If it reached the point of wanting to send Tomlin to the Minors, he would have to approve the demotion due to having more than five years of Major League service time.

Complicating matters for Cleveland on Friday was the fact that its offense could not break through against lefty CC Sabathia in his six innings on the hill. A lineup that churned out 42 runs on 59 hits in the previous four games managed just a 3-for-20 showing against the veteran southpaw.

"Josh went out there and got us through the seventh," Allen said. "The guy grinded and gave us some length that we really, really needed. The offense came back and [Alexi Ogando] went out there and threw the ball really well. Just getting that third out right now is kind of elusive for us."

Ogando in the ninth: Francona planned on letting Ogando -- called up before the game after working as a starter in Triple-A Columbus -- pitch deeper into the ninth, but the manager altered course following Giancarlo Stanton's leadoff double. That is when Francona summoned Allen, who recorded two outs before issuing a free pass to Neil Walker and yielding the game-winning hit to Andujar.

Ogando walked in a run with the bases loaded during a 30-pitch eighth inning.

Video: CLE@NYY: Judge plates Andujar with a walk to get lead

"The options are limited," Francona said of his fatigued bullpen. "It's a little frustrating, but the idea was to actually let Ogando pitch for a while. I just felt like with that leadoff double, and the way our guys [fought back], the effort they'd given, I thought bringing in Cody gave us the best chance to keep that game going. And I thought Cody made some really good pitches."

Lindor's blunder: Following a leadoff single by Walker in the fourth inning, Andujar sent a chopper to Lindor, who was shaded in the hole closer to third. The ball eluded Lindor's grasp for a costly error, rather than leading to at least an out (and possibly two). That created a quick jam for Tomlin, who then allowed Torres' three-run homer for the first runs of the game.

"I think it would've been a tough play," said Tomlin, asked if Lindor had a shot at starting a double play. "That fourth inning kind of got away from me a little bit. I couldn't make the pitches to get out of it, to keep the crooked number off."

Video: CLE@NYY: Andujar reaches on an error by Lindor

Chapman vs. the Tribe: The Indians are plenty familiar with Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman -- famously for his battles vs. the club in the 2016 World Series while with the Cubs. In the ninth, Chapman fired a pair of wild pitches that helped the Tribe scratch across a run. Yan Gomes led off with a single, Zimmer was later hit by a pitch with one out and Chapman helped Gomes advance 180 feet with the two errant pitches to pull the game into a 6-6 tie.

Video: CLE@NYY: Gomes scores on wild pitch to tie the game

In the first inning, Indians left fielder Rajai Davis made a slick sliding catch to rob Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner of a leadoff hit. Gardner sliced a low liner over left, where Davis covered 32 feet in 2.9 seconds to make the grab. Per Statcast™, the play had a 42 percent catch probability, making Davis' gem a 4-star play.

Video: CLE@NYY: Davis makes a nice sliding catch

After delivering a one-out double in the fourth inning, Ramirez bolted for third base and tested Sanchez's arm with slugger Edwin Encarnacion up to bat. Sanchez made a pinpoint throw to third, where Andujar swiftly applied a tag on Ramirez's left forearm as he slid in headfirst. Ramirez was called out and it was determined the call would stand following a replay review initiated by an Indians challenge.

Video: CLE@NYY: Sanchez nails Ramirez stealing, call stands

Following a flyout to end the eighth inning, Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso argued with home-plate umpire Tim Timmons about some of the ball and strike calls during his at-bat. Timmons ejected Alonso, who was replaced at first by utility man Erik Gonzalez.

"That's not me," Alonso said apologetically. "I hurt the team right there, especially defensively. I'm going to go talk to the umpires tomorrow, because that's not me."

Righty Trevor Bauer (2-2, 2.45 ERA) will take the mound at Yankee Stadium opposite Sonny Gray (1-2, 6.67 ERA) in a 1:05 p.m. ET tilt on Saturday against the Yankees. It marks Bauer's first start in the Bronx since Game 4 of the 2017 AL Division Series. Last year in the regular season, Bauer held the Yankees to two runs over 13 innings in a pair of outings.

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.

Cleveland Indians, Josh Tomlin