Tribe Backs Tomlin With Four Homers and Four-Run Fourth; Indians 6, A’s 3
Bob Toth | On 30, Jul 2016
The Cleveland Indians used another big four-run inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics on Saturday on a night full of celebrations, some jaw flapping, one big bat flip, extensive boos, and plenty of fireworks.
As the Indians inducted one Hall of Famer, another future Hall of Famer, and another pair of Tribe greats into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the game, the Indians used that old longball that made Jim Thome and Albert Belle some of the feared players in the game during Cleveland’s magical revival in the mid-90’s. They mixed it with a quality outing from Josh Tomlin, but they may have benefitted from a big contribution from Oakland’s DH, Billy Butler.
The A’s jumped out in front in the first, albeit briefly, as Jake Smolinski walked with one out and moved into scoring position on a single by Josh Reddick. Khris Davis struck out for the second out before Danny Valencia singled to center, driving in Smolinski. With two still in scoring position, Indians starter Tomlin struck out his third batter of the inning, setting down Yonder Alonso to curtail the rally with the A’s out to a 1-0 lead.
Rookie left-hander Dillon Overton struck out Rajai Davis to start the home half of the first before Jason Kipnis knotted the game at one with a homer to right. The Indians put two more on before a double play ball from Carlos Santana killed the inning.
Tomlin struck out two more in the second before the Indians gave him the lead on a Jose Ramirez homer to lead off the second. Again, the Tribe put two more on base with just one out, but a pair of outs in the air ended the scoring threat. They would leave two more on base in the third, failing to score.
The A’s tied it up in the fourth in an interesting at bat that may have changed the tide of the game in the Indians’ favor despite losing the lead. With two outs, Butler was at the plate and took exception to a 1-2 pitch called a ball. Indians catcher Chris Gimenez framed the pitched into the strike zone and held the pose briefly before tossing the ball back to Tomlin. The two exchanged words and were separated by home plate umpire Tripp Gibson before action resumed. Tomlin tossed another ball before Butler crushed a 3-2 pitch 442 feet into the bleachers, capped by a dramatic bat flip halfway to the A’s dugout. Gibson walked with Gimenez, who followed Butler several feet towards first and again as the former Kansas City Royals slugger approached the end of his home run trot, to help prevent any issues.
“I kind of took offense to the whole situation,” said Gimenez after the game. “I felt like there was a little bit of showmanship right there. I was definitely not thrilled that he turned around and screamed in my face. I let him know I would be waiting for him when he got back.
“Things like that are going to happen. It won’t be the last time. It kind of rallied the troops, I’ll take it.”
Tomlin struck out Marcus Semien to end the fourth and the Indians took their turn, needing just the first pitch of the inning to retake the lead as Abraham Almonte crushed a deep drive to left to put Cleveland back on top. After a line out from Gimenez, Davis singled to left and scored on a double to deep center by Kipnis. Overton exited for Liam Hendriks, who got Francisco Lindor to ground to second for the second out, but Mike Napoli continued to clobber baseballs in Cleveland with a two-run shot to center to rip the game open, 6-2.
Tomlin gave up a hit in the fifth and sixth and walked Butler to lead off the seventh, but the A’s could muster nothing more. Bryan Shaw took over in the eighth, giving up a one-out double but escaping unharmed with a pair of strikeouts in the inning. Cody Allen came on in a non-save situation in the ninth and gave up a solo homer with two outs to Semien, but retired Bruce Maxwell on a grounder to second to end the ball game.
The Indians (59-42) claimed the series with the win over the Athletics (47-57). They gained ground on the bottom two teams in the AL Central, Kansas City and Minnesota, but only kept pace with Detroit and Chicago after each won their games on Saturday.
Tomlin (11-3, 3.43 ERA) did his job on the mound for the Tribe and was aided by some middle inning run support. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts. Seventeen of the 28 batters he faced saw first pitch strikes on the night. He was well balanced in his attack, getting seven outs via strikeout, seven on the ground, six in the air, and one on an outfield assist from Almonte.
With eleven victories, he matched rotation mate Danny Salazar for the team lead in wins.
LONG BALLS OVERWHELM OVERTON
Overton (1-2, 9.33) was dealt his second loss of the season with a rough outing and was hurt by the home run ball again. The lefty lasted just three and one-third innings and was charged with five runs on ten hits with one walk and one strikeout.
In 18 1/3 innings on the season, he has allowed nine home runs.
Napoli came up just the elusive triple shy of the cycle with a 3-for-3 day at the plate. He also walked to reach base safely in all four plate appearances. The homer was his 23rd of the season and the double his 16th. He leads the team with 70 RBI, already the third-highest total driven in during his career.
NEW HALL OF FAME CLASS
Cleveland inducted four into the Indians Hall of Fame prior to the game. Thome was the lone player present and his daughter sang the National Anthem. Belle was unable to attend due to family obligations. Also inducted were former Indians player and manager and MLB Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and the late Charlie Jamieson, an outfielder with the Indians from 1919 to 1932.
Burns had been playing at Triple-A after an impressive rookie season in 2015. Eibner had just been optioned to Triple-A to make room on the Royals roster for Lorenzo Cain, who returned from the disabled list.
HILL TO THE DL
The A’s placed starting pitcher Rich Hill on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, retroactive to July 20. He has been dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
ONE MORE TIME
The series finale will feature a pair of number one starters. Oakland will send right-hander Sonny Gray (5-9, 5.43), marred in the worst season of his four-year MLB career. Cleveland will counter with Corey Kluber (9-8, 3.44), looking to join Tomlin and Salazar as Indians pitchers with double-digit win totals while seeking his first career win against Oakland.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 1:10 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer