CHICAGO -- Understandably, Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin had plenty of emotional moments leading up to his start against the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field Friday night.
But it had far more to do with personal reasons than it did because of the sports stage he was about to take.
Tomlin was able to pitch in front of his father, Jerry, for the first time since his dad suffered tangled blood clots near his spinal cord that robbed him of the ability to move from the chest down in August. Despite not yet regaining the ability to walk, Jerry Tomlin made the trek from Texas to Chicago to watch his son take the mound in a game the Indians won, 1-0, which gave them a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
“I think I've probably said it more times than I probably should, but it was probably one of my more emotional starts I've ever had in my entire life, career, any situation baseball related ever,” Tomlin said. “I'm fortunate enough for him to even be here, so to have him get to experience a World Series game and obviously, my first World Series start, it meant everything.”
Over 4.2 innings of work against the Cubs in Game 3, Tomlin allowed just two hits and one walk with one strikeout.
“I found him before the game” Tomlin said. “That way I could kind of go to him throughout the course of the game. If the game was speeding up to me, just to find that sense of calm there. To be able to find him and see him in the stands, it kind of calmed me down and just let me go out there and settle into the game and try to go out there and do the best that I could for him.”
Although not overpowering, Tomlin set the tone for the remainder of the pitching staff. And when he was relieved by left-handed fire-baller Andrew Miller in the bottom of the fifth inning, the bullpen picked up where he left off.
Miller got pinch hitter Miguel Montero to line out to right field for the final out of the fifth. Then, in the sixth, Miller set down the Cubs in order, all on strikeouts. Despite allowing two hits over 1.2 innings of work, Bryan Shaw kept the Cubs at bay, and then, closer Cody Allen nailed down the four-out save, his sixth of the postseason.
“That's the situation we're in right now,” Tomlin said of the early change. “It's the World Series. There are no more series after this, so you've got to do everything you can to try to win right now and win today. Regular season's probably a little bit different, but, you know, it's not regular season.
“It's a World Series game. When stuff starts happening, you go to guys that are probably a little more fresh, and that have maybe a little bit better stuff that can put a guy away in situations like when Andrew came in.”