'Tremendous' Tomlin continues good run

Though a tough-luck loser on Friday, Indians righty has allowed just 2 ER in last 15 innings

'Tremendous' Tomlin continues good run

CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes moved into his crouch and tapped his right leg, calling for an outside pitch from Indians starter Josh Tomlin. The catcher raised his glove -- positioned low and away -- and Tomlin shifted into his motion on the mound.

The four-seamer did not find the intended target. Instead, the pitch tailed back over the heart of the plate, found the barrel of Miguel Sano's bat and rocketed over the right-field wall. Tomlin is no stranger to solo home runs, but this one stung more as Friday's 1-0 loss to the Twins wore on.

As well as Tomlin pitched -- and he pitched brilliantly for the Tribe -- one mistake was all it took to end up in the loss column.

"You want a win at the end of the day," Tomlin said. "No matter how good you pitched."

Tomlin wound up with the "L" next to his name in the box score, though that was mostly due to the latest gem from Twins starter Ervin Santana. Granted, Cleveland's lineup has scored three runs or fewer in eight of the past 10 games, but Santana's latest effort trimmed his ERA to 1.50 on the season. The Twins' righty has been quieting a lot of bats this year.

Under the circumstances, Tomlin shouldered the blame for the defeat, saying, "A lot of that's on me."

Indians manager Terry Francona preferred to focus on the fact that Tomlin continued to turn the page on his ugly opening to this season. Two starts into the year, the starter struggled to harness his fastball command and his ERA ballooned to 18.47 (13 runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings). Since those first two outings, Tomlin has turned in a 3.38 ERA in five starts, including only two runs yielded in his past 15 innings.

"He was tremendous," Francona said. "Even when he was missing tonight, he's following the glove and is just off the plate. I mean, that's probably why he gives up the home runs, because he's around the plate so much. But, when he is going good, it's quick, he doesn't beat himself, he fields his position, all the things you talk about. Then, when he is changing speeds like that, he's terrific.

"We've seen him get in runs like this, where he can be pretty good."

On the night, Tomlin limited the Twins to the one run on six hits over eight innings, in which he struck out seven and issued one walk in the hard-luck loss. That showing came after Tomlin held the Royals to one run on three hits in seven innings on Saturday in Kansas City. The starter picked up a no-decision for his effort in that one.

"He was good. He had our guys confused -- there's no doubt about that," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Take your hits and try not to get greedy, because he preys on over-aggressive swings and he has late movement between the curveball that he got some of our guys to chase, and that cutter [was] either getting in on the lefties or off the end of the bats on the righties."

It was just one misplaced fastball that cost Cleveland.

"We just tried to get the ball out and away in case he was ambushing," Tomlin said of the pitch to Sano. "The ball kind of leaked back over the middle of the plate. To a good hitter that's going the way he's going right now, that's a non-quality pitch and he did what he has been doing to mistakes this year."

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.