Tomlin’s First Inning Struggles Continue, Tribe’s Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short; Orioles 4, Indians 3
By Ryan Hohman
Josh Tomlin continued his first-inning struggles Sunday afternoon, giving up two runs to the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. The score was 4-0 going into the ninth inning before the Cleveland Indians bats finally woke up. Cleveland would send eight men to the plate and score three runs but it was too little too late as the Orioles hung on for a 4-3 victory.
Tomlin, who has given up 19 runs in the first-inning this season, regrouped after the rocky start to pitch six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and no walks with two strikeouts. His record fell to 5-7 as his ERA dropped from 5.51 to 5.34.
Before rallying to score three runs in the ninth, the Indians had only plated three runs in their last four games – all solo homeruns.
The defeat drops the Tribe below .500 (47-48) for the first time since April 14 (3-4). The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4 in Detroit to extend their AL Central lead over the Tribe to four games. The White Sox remain one and a half games ahead of Cleveland, who is now three games back in the wildcard with six teams sitting in front of them.
The Orioles got their leadoff man on in the first as Jason Markakis reached on a single to shortstop. Asdrubal Cabrera made a nice sliding play to field the ball and fire to first, but the throw was a smidge late. J.J. Hardy followed with his 14th homerun of the year to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Jim Thome and Chris Davis also singled in the inning, where Tomlin gave up four hits.
Baltimore tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning off Cleveland reliever Esmil Rogers. Ryan Flaherty drew a walk to start the inning. Taylor Teagarden sacrifice bunted Flaherty over to second. Nick Markakis moved Flaherty to third with an infield single to third base. J.J. Hardy followed with an RBI single to left to score Flaherty and give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
Baltimore Orioles starter Zach Britton was sharp in his second start of the season, going six innings, giving up no runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He picked up his first win of the season (1-0) and lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 3.60.
Luis Ayala relieved Britton in the seventh and retired the first seven batters he faced. With one out in the ninth, Ayala looked to be in position to pick up a rare three inning save. Then came the Indians rally.
Michael Brantley started it off with a one-out single to center. Carlos Santana followed with a two-run homerun to right field, his 7th of the season, knocking Ayala out of the game.
MLB save leader Jim Johnson relieved Ayala. Shelly Duncan welcomed Johnson to the game with a blast of his own off the top of the left field wall. Duncan slid into second for a double to keep the inning alive. Travis Hafner came on to pinch hit for Marson and delivered with an RBI single to right-center, scoring Duncan and cutting Baltimore’s lead to 4-3.
That’s as close as the Tribe would get as Johnson was able to hang on and pick up his MLB leading 30th save of the season.
Besides the ninth inning rally, the Indians only other threat to get back in the ballgame came in the sixth when they had the bases loaded with two outs and Santana at the plate. Santana struck out looking.
Photo credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images