House's early struggles continue in spot start

Lefty searching for rhythm after third straight loss

House's early struggles continue in spot start

DETROIT -- Indians lefty TJ House was expecting to face the Royals in his next start. That plan was scrapped less than an hour before Saturday's game in Detroit, where starter Trevor Bauer came down with food poisoning and was too sick to take the mound for Cleveland.

The old adage in baseball is that it is a game of adjustments. The circumstances proved too daunting for House to handle.

"Obviously, this was a last-minute thing," House said. "Today, I came in and didn't think I was going to be out there at all."

Three subpar innings from House, combined with the offense's latest shift from feast to famine, paved the way for a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Detroit at Comerica Park. It was undoubtedly unusual circumstances for House, but the abbreviated outing also fell in line with what has been a woeful start to the year for the lefty.

Through three starts, House has been hung with three losses to go along with a bloated 12.60 ERA. The southpaw has faced Detroit twice and has given up nine runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings combined in those starts. Overall, House has surrendered 14 runs on 17 hits with more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven) in 10 innings as Cleveland's fifth starter.

"I still think he's trying to find his rhythm," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When he's going good, he works ahead, he stays down and as he gets into the flow of the game, you start to see him get under some bats. He's working from behind and he's having a tough time climbing back into counts, because he's just not quite throwing it where he wants to yet.

"It just seems like he's fighting so hard to find the rhythm and it's just not quite there yet."

Part of the problem can be traced to House's unorthodox pitching schedule so far this season.

Due to a handful of team off-days in April, House had to wait through 13 days off before making his first start of the regular season on April 12, following his final Cactus League outing on March 29. After Detroit beat him in his first outing, House then had six days off before his second start of the season on Sunday in Minnesota. He was expecting another eight days off before Bauer's illness knocked him out of the mix on Saturday.

In the first inning, the first four batters House faced reached base, including Victor Martinez, who capped off that sequence with a two-run single to right field. House faced the minimum in an impressive showing in the second, but then issued a leadoff walk in the third to Rajai Davis, who stole second and scored on another RBI single from Martinez.

When the smoke cleared, House was charged with three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts en route to the loss.

House said the sporadic schedule might be playing a role in his lack of in-game rhythm.

"I think there's a lot of things that play into it," House said. "One of them could just be a lot of craziness that's been going on. I threw my side [Friday] and I had a really good side the other day, and I was very confident going into my next start with how I felt, the ball coming out of my hand and how much better my command had been.

"Today, it just wasn't ideal. But, that's what was handed to me, so I did the best I could when I got out there."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.