Coco Crisp crosses home after his 3-run home run in the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the White Sox
In seven starts dating back to the beginning of 2015, Carlos Rodon allowed just 10 earned runs over the course of 42 innings pitched against the Indians. On Wednesday night, the Indians managed 6 earned runs against Rodon, in just 5 IP. To put that in perspective, in just 5 innings the Indians matched their run total against Rodon for the entire 2015 season. So how did they manage to have success this time? A couple of big clutch hits that came at the right time made all of the difference.
In the fourth inning, Rodon walked both Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana with one out. Napoli was down 0-2 early in the count, but managed to come back and earn the walk. Who was up next? Jose Ramirez, who has come to the plate in so many big situations like this, came through once again with a huge triple. He scored on a Brandon Guyer single to make the score 3-1.
Ramirez and Guyer were involved in the Indians’ next outburst of runs in the sixth inning as well. They both singled to open the inning, and then scored on Coco Crisp’s 3-run home run. That made the score 6-1, and that would end up being the final tally for the night.
The White Sox got on the board first with a run in the third inning. Tyler Saladino singled with one out; it was a weird hit that was deflected off of Josh Tomlin’s glove and ended up ricocheting to Jason Kipnis. It was a close play at first, but Saladino was safe. This was followed by an Adam Eaton triple, that plated the White Sox’s only run. Eaton ended up stranded at third when Tomlin struck out Tim Anderson and got Melky Cabrera to fly out to end the inning. So with just one out and a runner at third, this could have ended up much worse. However, if Tomlin doesn’t instinctively try to field the Saladino hit, he’s likely out on a routine play at first, and nobody ends up scoring on Eaton’s triple.
After the last two nights, I found myself thinking “oh, here we go,” after Eaton smashed the triple to deep right. It was already looking kind of bad, and that’s without considering the obligatory home run that Tomlin would likely still surrender. But Tomlin never surrendered a home run – only the fourth appearance this year (out of 27) in which he did not allow at least one home run. Terry Francona only let Tomlin throw 5 innings, and 72 pitches, but with his shaky outings recently that’s how it should be. If fatigue was negatively impacting Tomlin (as I mentioned in the open thread) you’re better off being conservative with his usage. The bullpen (Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen) threw four scoreless innings, walking none and allowing 2 hits, striking out 3.
I was almost dreading this game today, but it ended up being pretty enjoyable. The pitching was strong (especially when compared with the prior two games) and the Indians got some clutch hits at the right time. I’m not sure what this means for Tomlin moving forward though. I don’t think you can automatically plug him back into the rotation without fatigue setting in again. I think you just have to be very conservative with his usage and keep him fresh(ish) for a potential playoff run.
The Tribe will go for the split on Thursday with Mike Clevinger squaring off against James Shields before they return home for the weekend series with Detroit. Even though Detroit also won on Wednesday night, the magic number still drops to 12.