CHICAGO -- Nearly two months ago, Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin found himself out of the starting rotation after a string of rough outings in August, but now, he will take the ball in the most critical game of the season.
Tomlin will start against the Chicago Cubs tonight in Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field, and will do so with the opportunity to pitch the Indians back into the lead in the best-of-seven matchup against the National League Champions.
“It's awesome,” Tomlin said. “I think us as a team, we've earned this right, so we're going to enjoy it, but we also need to go out there, play relaxed and not get complacent about just being here. We need to go out there and play our style of baseball and try to win games.
“It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to be playing the Cubs, and we're going to enjoy the moment.”
In six August starts, Tomlin posted an 0-5 record with an 11.48 earned run average. Despite striking out 21 hitters against just six walks allowed over 26.2 innings of work, Tomlin surrendered 46 hits, including a team-high 10 home runs, as well as 35 runs, 34 of which were earned.
Tomlin made it out of the fifth inning in just one of those six starts. However, the veteran right-hander seemed to find his rhythm in the nick of time.
After being reinserted into the starting rotation following a rash of injuries, Tomlin won two of his four starts and had one no-decision over 25.2 innings of work against the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox.
Tomlin allowed just five earned runs, one home run and no walks with 10 strikeouts over those four starts.
“The execution of my pitches wasn't where it needed to be,” Tomlin said. “I was leaving balls over the middle of the plate, and guys were taking advantage of that. When you're not overpowering guys and you're not inducing early contact and getting early outs, they can kind of sit on one side of the plate and they can do some damage on you.”
Tomlin was supposed to start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, but when Trevor Bauer suffered a lacerated right pinkie finger while performing “routine maintenance” on a drone, the Texan was moved up to start Game 2.
Tomlin answered the bell and allowed just three hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 5.2 innings of work in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays at Progressive Field. And in doing so, Tomlin gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series over Toronto.
And a repeat performance against the Cubs is exactly what Tomlin is striving for tonight.
“My main focus is pitching and trying to pitch as deep as I can in a ballgame and try to help this team win,” Tomlin said. “The hitting part's pretty cool to be involved in the whole game as opposed to just one side of it, but I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself going out there. I'm going to try to have fun with it, but there's a chance that that could help win a ballgame.”