CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin struggled his way through the first half of the 2017 regular season, but in his outing against the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field Thursday, the veteran right-hander found something within his game.
Along with 14 hits, including seven for extra bases (three doubles, one triple and three home runs) from the offense, Tomlin went seven strong innings in the 11-2 victory over the Padres (36-49), which helped the Indians (45-39) avoid a second three-game sweep at Progressive Field in the last two weeks.
“The way he went about it, moved the ball around, changed speeds, that was outstanding,” Indians interim manager Brad Mills said. “They started getting hits later on, but the way that he was able to command the zone, worked quick, there was no traffic because of the hits, but at the same time, he really did a good job.”
After allowing three or more earned runs in six straight starts and eight of his last nine outings, Tomlin made it out of the sixth inning for the first time since a loss at Kansas City on June 2.
Over those seven innings of work, Tomlin scattered four hits and two earned runs, did not surrender a walk and struck out six Padres hitters. Tomlin located the strike zone with 74 of his 96 pitches and drew a standing ovation from the crowd on his way to the dugout in the top of the eighth inning.
Tomlin was perfect through the first four innings, and set down the Padres in order in six of his seven frames.
“It’s huge for me,” Tomlin said. “Being a guy that’s not very powerful, I have to control the count as much as I can. I understand there’s certain situations where you don’t want to control the count.
“You want to try and pitch around guys, but for me, controlling the count as much as I can and following Gomer’s glove is huge. I was able to do that, and I was able to command the ball. Fortunately enough, I was able to get deep in a game and help us win the game.”
Of those 74 pitches that found the strike zone against San Diego, many had late-breaking action to them, and having those secondary and tertiary pitches like the cut fastball and curveball working well allowed Tomlin to keep the Padres off balance.
“It’s huge because it’s such a separator for a fastball,” Tomlin said. “I’m a heavy fastball-cutter guy, so to be able to have that differential in speed to kind of slow guys down, my changeup wasn’t very good, I think I threw maybe two or three changeups the whole night, they weren’t very quality pitches.
“So to be able to have that curveball and different speeds just keeps them off-balance more and it makes the fastball in and up play a little bit better. You can get weak contact with that or a swing and miss, especially if they’re curveballs for a strike or a ball when you need them to be.”
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