TORONTO -- Josh 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 against six strikeouts over 5.2 innings of work in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays in Game 2 at Progressive Field. And in doing so, Tomlin gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series over Toronto heading into tonight’s game.
“I'm going full bore from the first pitch on,” Tomlin said. “I don't have the luxury of kind of cruising through a game. But it does help knowing that there's guys in that bullpen that are going to come in after you. Those guys have been great in the regular season. They continue to be good in the postseason, so our job is to stand there until Tito walks out and takes the ball from us. We have all the confidence in everyone in that bullpen to come in and shut the door.”
Against a potent Toronto lineup, Tomlin stranded four base runners, surrendering just the one earned run in the top of the third inning. And Tomlin credited the success against Toronto with his ability to work from in front rather than behind in counts.
“I needed to establish I could throw for a strike early on, and then, it was a pretty good pitch,” Tomlin said of his curve ball. “It was effective early on, so the end-game strategy at that point was use whenever is a good time for it and see if we couldn't get them out in front to try to get some early outs.
“Sometimes, you find that slot and find that rhythm later in the season, and maybe, a pitch isn't as effective later on as it was early in the season. To me it was just find the grip, stay with it and just trying to execute it.
“Some days, it's good. Some days, it's not and you've got to adjust accordingly. That's not to say it's going to be good the next time out. If it's not, then I've got to go with something else, try to get creative with it.”
Although Bauer was unable to pitch in Game 2 because of the 10 stitches in his finger to close the wound from the drone, he is scheduled to take the ball at the center of the diamond at Rogers Centre tonight, and does so with plenty of inspiration after watching Tomlin’s outing in Cleveland.
“That was super impressive,” Bauer said. “I think the casual fan would overlook it. It's something that shouldn't be overlooked. Routine is huge for starters. Throwing your bullpen so you can stay sharp, but also, just the physical preparation of knowing how your body is going to respond and be able to go out there and feel like you're a hundred percent ready to compete. Which is obviously even more important for playoffs, when every game is so important.
“He obviously wasn't able to do that, so the job he did of going out there and throwing the way he did was extremely impressive, and he deserves a ton of credit for that.”