Nationals Knock Around Tomlin to Split Series with Tribe; Nationals 7, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 10, Aug 2016
The Indians ran out of comebacks on Wednesday afternoon as the Washington Nationals tagged Josh Tomlin for seven runs and held on for a 7-4 victory over Cleveland to split the two-game set and four-game season series.
After stealing a win from Max Scherzer on Tuesday night behind a strong pitching performance from Trevor Bauer, Tomlin could not help the Indians ride the high of the big win against one of the best teams in the National League. He got little help from Abraham Almonte, who made it an adventure in right field in the early innings.
With an out in the first, Jayson Werth lifted a fly ball to right. Almonte gave chase, appeared to be in position on the run, and missed the hit. The ball bounded over the fence for a ground rule double. Werth moved to third on a grounder by Daniel Murphy before an RBI-single from Wilson Ramos put the Nationals on the board. Tomlin allowed a double to right-center to Anthony Rendon before striking out rookie Brian Goodwin to evade further trouble.
Almonte made up for the miscue in the second inning after a two-out single by Brandon Guyer off of Nats starter Gio Gonzalez. Almonte jumped on the first pitch and doubled to right, scoring Guyer to tie the game at one.
Two quick hits in the second from Danny Espinosa and Ben Revere got things going for Washington before Tomlin struck out Gonzalez and got Trea Turner to fly to center. An out away from escaping again, the Indians starter gave up the big three-run blast to Werth to left to make it a 4-1 game.
The resilient Indians fought for their starter in the next half inning, using more two-out scoring to get right back into the game. Rajai Davis singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout by Jason Kipnis to first. That was a moot point as Francisco Lindor slugged a 3-2 pitch to left to make it a 4-3 game. Two pitches later, Mike Napoli doubled to deep right and, on the very next pitch, Jose Ramirez drove a double to center to drive in Napoli to tie the game at four.
Tomlin and Gonzalez combined to retire the next 13 batters before Almonte’s journey in right led to the game spiraling out of control. Turner doubled to right and Werth walked on four pitches before Murphy lifted a fly ball to the wall in right. Almonte, looking back for the wall, turned back to instead watch the ball glance off of the end of his glove. The play was ruled a double, scoring Turner to give Washington the lead while ending Tomlin’s afternoon. Dan Otero got a grounder from Ramos, but Rendon doubled after two strikes to score both runners and break the game open, 7-4.
Cleveland’s best chance to get back into the game was in the sixth, but one swing of the bat deleted the rally instead of potentially tying the game. Napoli walked and Ramirez singled, ending Gonzalez’s afternoon for Matt Belisle as Lonnie Chisenhall grabbed a bat for Guyer. After two quick strikes, he grounded to short to start the 6-4-3 double play. With Napoli still at third but two down, Almonte hit to second to completely kill the rally.
The Indians would get a pair of two-out singles from Davis and Kipnis in the seventh and a one-out base knock from Ramirez in the eighth, but could not push across anything else and new Nats closer Mark Melancon set the side down in order in the ninth for his 32nd save of the year.
The Indians (63-48) lost the finale of their five-game road trip to return home with a 2-3 record on the two-city tour. They come back to Progressive Field, where they are 31-20, to start an eleven-game homestand beginning Thursday.
The Nationals (67-46) evened up the all-time series between the two clubs at eight wins apiece with the victory. They will take Thursday off before welcoming in Atlanta for three games this weekend.
TOMLIN TAGGED AGAIN
It is now two bad starts in a row for Tomlin (11-5, 4.18 ERA), who started and ended the road trip with losses. He has failed to complete five innings in each of his last two starts and has given up seven runs in each August start. He struck out four and walked one on Wednesday while giving up eight hits.
While some of the problems that he faced came from a pair of non-errors in right by Almonte, it was another big home run that proved costly in the early innings. Werth’s shot was the 17th allowed by Tomlin over his last eleven starts. Just two times in 21 starts has Tomlin kept the ball in the yard for the duration of his outing.
“I make a mistake, I pay for it,” said Tomlin. “Doing that against a team like that, it’s tough to come back from.”
GONZALEZ NOT AT HIS BEST
Despite not being at his best, Gonzalez (8-9, 4.24) went two batters into the sixth. He allowed four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
With the win, he improved to 6-0 lifetime against Cleveland in nine career starts.
PLUS ONE FOR RAMIREZ AND NAPOLI
Napoli and Ramirez each added another game to their hitting streaks on Wednesday and did so in consecutive at bats in the third. Napoli made his ten straight with a two-out double after the Lindor homer. Ramirez extended his to 14 games with his own double and had three hits on the day.
HARPER HELD OUT AGAIN
The Indians missed Bryce Harper this week as he was held out of his third straight game on Wednesday with a stiff neck that resembled muscle spasms. Team trainers have had difficulty trying to ease his discomfort, which equates to a .134 average and .209 slugging mark in the second half for the 23-year-old slugger.
WERTH’S IMPRESSIVE ON-BASE STREAK
Werth wasted no time extending his consecutive games on-base streak to an MLB-leading 40 with his first inning ground rule double that led to the Nationals’ first run of the day. He added a homer later and drove in three runs in the ball game.
“I’m an on-base guy that can drive in runs,” said Werth after the game. “I think I’ve silenced all those people that have told me over the years that that’s the way I should hit. Just getting back to being myself. I think that’s what it comes down to.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was back at the helm of the Tribe on Wednesday, one day after being held out of his obligations for precautionary reasons after experiencing chest pains, the sweats, and a heart rate over 100 beats a minute prior to Tuesday’s game.
After being checked out at Nationals Park, he was sent back to the team hotel for rest.
“I was more embarrassed,” shared Francona about the reception he received from coworkers about his situation. “If guys started worrying – treating me like that – I’d have been scared. Because if anybody deserves it, it’s probably me.”
Francona, 57, has twice dealt with a pulmonary embolism and has a history of blood clots that he takes blood thinners for.
After one of their shorter road trips of the season, the Indians will return to Cleveland to start a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Corey Kluber (11-8, 3.16) will take the ball for the Tribe, looking to resume his hot stretch on the mound of late. Former Indians minor leaguer Jhoulys Chacin (2-5, 5.22) will make his 16th start of the season and eleventh for the Angels after beginning the year in the Atlanta Braves rotation.
Thursday’s game is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon