CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin opted to open his outing with a sinker on Thursday night. The pitch began outside, but then quickly darted over the heart of the plate. White Sox leadoff man Tim Anderson was ready for it, and launched the baseball out to left field.
"They were certainly ready to hit from pitch one," Indians manager Terry Francona said after his team's 10-4 loss to the White Sox at Progressive Field.
Anderson's game-opening home run was just an appetizer.
Chicago's lineup sent nine batters to the plate in a five-run first inning, and Tomlin was out of the game before the end of the second. It all added up to a seven-run meltdown for Cleveland's precision-based right-hander, who allowed six runs in his first start of the year on Friday in Arizona. He has given up 13 runs on 15 hits in 6 1/3 innings this season.
The rough start is reminiscent of last August, when Tomlin turned in an 11.48 ERA and found himself back in the bullpen at the start of September. The Indians are hoping what follows now is also similar to last year. Tomlin was back in the rotation down the stretch last summer and corrected his issues, posting a 1.69 ERA over his last five regular-season outings. He then pitched well deep into the postseason.
Tomlin is planning to tackle the current problems in the coming days.
"It's back to work tomorrow, and figuring out what I need to do to get better," Tomlin said. "The day after that, it's throw a bullpen and try to iron those things out and be finer next time. I'm not a guy that's going to overpower anybody by any means, so I've got to be fine on the edges and throw the ball out of the zone when I need to. That's just not happening right now."
Last August, Tomlin's struggles revolved around his fastball. In 26 2/3 innings during that stretch, the righty allowed a .740 slugging percentage on fastballs, compared to a .455 mark against offspeed pitches, according to Statcast™. Overall last season, Tomlin limited batters to a .498 slugging percentage on fastballs and .452 slugging on offspeed offerings.
The White Sox capitalized on Tomlin's errant fastballs on Thursday night.
Both home runs he allowed -- Anderson's leadoff shot and a three-run blast by Matt Davidson in the first inning -- came on fastballs. For the night, the White Sox posted a 1.273 slugging percentage against Tomlin's four-seamers, cutters and sinkers. Through two outings, he has allowed a .769 slugging against his fastballs.
"It's just a matter of missing over the middle of the plate," Tomlin said. "That's been the common theme with the balls that were hit tonight. Whenever I did miss, it was squared up in the center of the plate. You do that enough times to a big league lineup, they'll make you pay for it."
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.