CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Terry Francona had been preaching the need for ‘keeping the line moving’ on offense before the Indians’ third three-game losing streak of the season. Beginning with Josh Tomlin’s stellar complete game, the offense gave their starter the support he needed as they showed a complete attack at the plate en route to snapping the skid.
The top eight hitters in the Indians lineup had a hit on Sunday, while seven of the 10 Tribe bats with a plate appearance also drove in a run. Austin Jackson, fresh off of the disabled list, led everybody with three RBI.
Within the 10 runs on 18 hits, Manager Terry Francona saw the kind of sustained life he wants to see going forward.
“We played with a lot of energy today,” he said. “Some of that is when you have 18 hits, you’re going to look like that. We’re going to have to find a way every day to come out with the same drive, however you want to say it, because we’re not always going to get 18 hits. But I was still really happy for our hitters.”
Jason Kipnis led the day, finishing 4-for-4, while bookending the Tribe’s day with the opening run on an RBI base hit off of Danny Duffy in the 1st inning, and the final run on a solo shot off of lefty Travis Wood in the 7th.
The former all-star second baseman said that the team had been as frustrated as one would imagine during a stretch of four losses in five games. He also added that days like Sunday are a reminder of what could be to come.
“Games like this only reassure us that this is the type of product we can roll out there when everything is going well,” he said. “This is the type of team we can be. So it’s frustrating when it doesn’t show up every day.”
Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez all turned in three-hit efforts, with Santana driving in two runs.
Rookie Bradley Zimmer even got in on the action despite not entering the game until the 6th, turning an RBI base hit into a double before coming around to score on Santana’s second knock.
The sense of relief was not only by way of the offense. On a day where the Indians’ pitching struggles culminated in Danny Salazar’s move to the bullpen, Tomlin turned in perhaps the team’s best start of the year, and the righty’s first complete game since September 15th, 2015.
Tomlin scattered six hits, including a monstrous home run from Jorge Bonifacio in the 5th, retiring 10 of the first 11 Royals hitters, as well as 13 of the final 15.
The 32-year old went to his curveball often, using the pitch on 39 of 111 offerings (35.1%), including Bonifacio’s moon-shot. While the curve has appeared more in his arsenal, Tomlin has thrown the pitch just 19.6 percent of the time, a sharp contrast to Sunday.
“My changeup was a little hard early on in the game, so the curveball was key for me to kind of keep hitters off balance,” Tomlin said. “It has that change of speed enough where it can get them out in front and then just makes the fastball play a little bit better.”
Tomlin garnered 6 of his 10 swinging strikes on the deuce, and 5 of 13 called. Nine curveballs were put in play, but Bonifacio’s homer and a 7th inning Salvador Perez single were the only curves that would up as hits.
“I think one, he has to pitch in, because he doesn’t maybe throw as hard as everybody else. He used his curveball more. He was crisp. He didn’t walk anybody,” Francona added. “And today was one of those days where we say maybe he’ll give up a solo, and boy did he ever, but it was one run. He moved on and Hosmer hit a bullet, but fortunately it was right at Carlos. Other than that, he kind of took the sting out of their bats. The wind was blowing in and he threw strikes and he stayed out of the middle of the plate.”