Terrific Tomlin, Two Santana Homers Send Tribe to Cincy Sweep; Indians 7, Reds 2
Bob Toth | On 19, May 2016
Riding the strong start of starter Josh Tomlin and the bats of Rajai Davis and Carlos Santana, the Cleveland Indians completed the season sweep of their in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, with a 7-2 victory on Thursday night from Great American Ball Park.
The bats got to work for the Tribe in the fourth inning against Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman after the two teams combined for just three total base runners through the first three innings. Francisco Lindor, one of those three early runners on a walk, led off the fourth with an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Zack Cozart. Two pitches later, Santana exited stage right with a big blast over the fence to give the Indians the night’s first two runs.
Tomlin could not contain the Reds in the fourth as they repeated a very similar recipe to the one used by the Indians. Billy Hamilton doubled to deep right and Joey Votto followed with a clout to center to tie the game at two all.
The Tribe’s pitcher made an unexpected contribution in the fifth. Already 1-for-1 at the plate with a third inning single up the middle, Tomlin yanked a double down the left field line against Reds reliever Caleb Cotham (0-3, 7.36), who was on in relief of the injured Adleman. Davis followed with a deep fly to center, misplayed by a leaping Hamilton for a double. Tomlin scored without a throw despite holding up initially to tag, and the Indians were back on top 3-2. Jason Kipnis flied to left, but after a stolen base from Davis, Lindor knocked in the center fielder with a single through the hole into left. Santana then jumped on Cotham’s first pitch and parked the baseball halfway up the seats in right to rip the game open, 6-2, on his seventh home run of the season.
Cleveland added another run of insurance in the sixth after a leadoff single from Juan Uribe off of Wednesday night’s losing pitcher, Keyvius Sampson. After a lineout from Chris Gimenez, Tomlin dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Uribe into scoring position. The move paid off as Davis delivered an RBI-double to left to make it 7-2.
Tomlin (6-0, 3.56 ERA) paved the way for the Indians both on the mound and at the plate. He gave his club seven and two-thirds innings of solid work on the mound. He allowed just two Reds runs on five hits, walked one, and struck out seven on 99 pitches.
“Seemed like he got better after he gave up that home run,” said manager Terry Francona in his postgame interview. “He settled down and had some real quick innings. His cutter was really good tonight. He commanded. Gimenez did a really good job leading him through the game and gave us what we needed.”
Cleveland (21-17) improved to a season-high four games above the .500 mark with their fourth straight win. The Reds (15-26) fell back to even at home at 12-12. They have now lost seven of their last eight and nine of their last eleven.
The Indians scored a series-low seven runs in Thursday’s win.
HELPING HIS OWN CAUSE
Tomlin did plenty to aid his own cause at the plate. Entering play with a .571 average lifetime (4-for-7), he went 2-for-3 and scored what ultimately was the deciding run of the contest. He had a solid single up the middle in the third, a double down the left field line leading off the fifth, and a sacrifice bunt that led to another run in the sixth. He struck out in his final plate appearance of the night.
“I hate to say it because his head will be so big it won’t be able to get through the door, but that’s pretty impressive,” said Francona. “It’s hard enough to get hits as a player, let alone somebody who hasn’t been hitting. That was impressive.”
Tomlin is now a .600 hitter in his Major League career. He is the first Indians pitcher in the history of interleague play to get a single and a double in the same game. The last Cleveland pitcher to do so was Steve Dunning in 1972.
NO STOPPING THE STOPPER
With the win Thursday, Tomlin became the first Indians starter to go 6-0 to start a season since Cliff Lee in 2008. That season, Lee won the Cy Young Award. Just saying.
RED HOT RAJAI THE OHIO CUP MVP
Cincinnati had no answer for Davis, who broke out of a slump with some fire against the Reds.
When the dust settled from all of his commotion, Davis was 9-for-16 in the series with three doubles, two homers, nine RBI, six walks, two stolen bases, and ten runs scored.
“I was able to refocus on what I really want to do at the plate,” said Davis of his day off preceding his current tear at the plate. “Refocus everything, just kind of take a step back and look at what has made me successful in the past and what I’m doing now – how I can get back to where I want to be.”
He came into the set lost in a 0-for-19 skid.
“He feels good. You can see it,” said Francona. “We’ve said it, he’s going to get them in bunches, and hopefully the bunches are big.”
Santana hit cleanup on Thursday and seemed unaffected by his rotating spot in the lineup. Playing first base to give Mike Napoli a night off with no designated hitter in the National League portion of interleague play, Santana slugged a pair of home runs and drove in four on the night. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk.
“We just want him to hit, wherever he is. Tonight, he stayed nice and short,” said Francona. “Hopefully he can continue that, because if he starts doing that, that’s just such a connector in our lineup, wherever he’s at.”
It was the sixth career multi-homer game of Santana’s career and his first such game since July 27, 2014, in Kansas City against the Royals. He also had a two-homer game two days before, also against KC.
The Indians lineup registered ten hits or more in all four games of their season series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Indians dominated the Reds pitching throughout the series, combining to hit .346 (56-for-162) in the four games while scoring 43 runs.
ADLEMAN ANGERS OBLIQUE
Cincinnati rookie starting pitcher Adleman left in the fourth inning after retiring one batter. During the middle of an at bat, he appeared to tweak his left oblique and had to come out of the game. He was charged with two runs on three hits, walked two batters, and struck out three.
HIT THE ROAD
The Indians are now off to Boston to take on the Red Sox in a three-game series this weekend. Corey Kluber (2-5, 4.30) will start in another return to Beantown for Francona, while right-hander Clay Buchholz (2-3, 6.11) will oppose for former Indians pitcher and front office member John Farrell.
Game time for Friday’s series opener from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo