Tomlin showcases hitting prowess, athleticism

Indians pitcher notches two hits, run scored while tossing 7 2/3 strong innings

Tomlin showcases hitting prowess, athleticism

CINCINNATI -- As he sprinted around third base in the fifth inning on Thursday, Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin had his sights set on scoring. There was only one problem: Tomlin was not used to this kind of situation. His mind suddenly raced with the options that existed a few strides ahead.

"How am I going to slide?" Tomlin said with a laugh after Cleveland's 7-2 win over the Reds. "That was one thing I was thinking. I didn't know headfirst, feet first or what."

Tomlin's mind was put to ease when he saw second baseman Jason Kipnis standing behind the dish, motioning for the pitcher to cross the plate standing up. Both Kipnis and Tomlin were chuckling, too, because these were not typical circumstances. As an American Leaguer, Tomlin is not expected to collect hits -- let alone two -- or score many runs.

In the win over the Reds, however, Tomlin collected a pair of hits, including a double, and made that heads-up dash to the plate for that go-ahead run in the fifth. On top of that, the right-hander logged 7 2/3 innings, holding Cincinnati to two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. When it was all said and done, Tomlin improved to 6-0 on the season.

Tomlin strikes out seven in win

After the win, manager Terry Francona laughed when asked if he wanted to address Tomlin's hitting or pitching first.

"I'm sure he's going to want to start with his hitting," Francona said with a smirk. "I hate to say it, because his head will be so big it won't be able to get through the door, but that's pretty impressive. That's pretty impressive. It's hard enough to get hits as a player, let alone as somebody who hasn't been hitting."

Tomlin became the first Indians pitcher to notch two hits (with a double) since Sept. 6, 1972, when Steve Dunning accomplished the feat against Milwaukee. The last Cleveland pitcher to have a multihit game was actually Tomlin, who first did so back on June 28, 2011, in Arizona.

Told he did something no Tribe pitcher had done since he did it himself, Tomlin smiled.

"Really? Cool," replied the pitcher, who is now 6-for-10 in his career as a hitter.

Tomlin -- also a shortstop and third baseman during his college days -- collected his single in the third inning, when he drove a pitch from Cincinnati's Tim Adleman up the middle for Cleveland's first hit of the day. Then in the fifth, Tomlin yanked a 2-2 fastball from Caleb Cotham down the left-field line for a double. Rajai Davis then brought Tomlin home with a double of his own to deep center field.

Davis' RBI double

Davis was also impressed by Tomlin's hitting, but it was his baserunning that stood out.

"He was going attack," Davis said with a grin. "You want to get to third base with less than two outs and he was about to do that. And then he had to turn around and score from there. Wow. That was pretty impressive. That's athletic. That's an athletic pitcher. That's another RBI for me, too. Thanks, Tomlin. I've got to thank him for that one."

After the win, Francona lauded Tomlin, saying: "He's easy to pull for. He's one of the better teammates I've ever seen. He'll do anything to try to help you win."

Might that include being the designated hitter on Friday in Boston?

"He will probably want to, but no," Francona said with a laugh.

Tomlin agreed. He said he needs a day out of the lineup to rest.

"My legs are shot," Tomlin said.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.