CLEVELAND – The Twins have flipped the script on the Indians.
After losing control of first place in a four-game sweep last weekend, Minnesota dealt the Tribe a three-game sweep of their own with a 4-0 victory to regain a half-game cushion atop the AL Central division on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Josh Tomlin surrendered four runs in 5.2 innings while the offensive finished the series with two runs on 21 hits, none of them timely enough to score (one RBI) or take a lead (zero leads).
Tomlin takes loss
Two singles and a two-run double off the bat of Jason Castro summed up the second-inning damage off Tomlin, a frame where location mistakes were being made out over the middle of the plate.
“I was maybe trying to be too fine early on in the counts (and it) cost me,” said Tomlin. “They (were) getting hitter’s counts and they can sit out over the plate, or look for the pitch they want to get and put a good swing on it.”
Eddie Rosario kept the pressure on the home nine with his 10th home run of the campaign, expanding the deficit to three runs.
“[Tomlin] was limiting the damage,” manager Terry Francona said. “He competes like nobody’s business, but he wasn’t commanding today like he typically does.”
Castro returned to the RBI column with another hard-hit double, handing Tomlin a final line of 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K (96 pitches, 57 strikes, 59.4%, four groundouts, three flyouts). His three free passes were his most since September 20, 2015.
“It was a weird day because there would be innings where [my command] felt really good,” said Tomlin. “Just a poor job of executing some pitches kind of the whole game. But there would be spurts where I would find it and there were spurts where I was, not nibbling, but just trying to be fine on the edges.”
Bats struggle to break through
A similar storyline defined the series finale as the Tribe batted 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Austin Jackson’s single marked the only sign of life when a run-scoring opportunity presented itself.
“I think it can be a little bit of human nature where you’re trying to do too much,” Francona said. “Then it kind of plays into their hand where, like I said, the fastball count they take a little bit off. (Ervin) Santana’s a real good example because he has a real nice feel for his secondary stuff. And then you either get a rollover or a popup or a weaker fly ball.”
Santana continued his stellar season, keeping his opposition scoreless despite allowing nine hits and throwing three wild pitches.
“I don’t think this series we were disciplined enough. You look at the box score today, we probably had the same amount of hits as they did,” said Francona. “We couldn’t keep a line moving. We just weren’t disciplined enough. They either elevated the fastball a little bit or (in) a fastball count, throw something off of the fastball. We never made them throw something.”
Yan Gomes stood out as went 0-for-4 and left six men on base, five of which were in scoring position.
“We can’t sit back and sulk about it. We’ve just got to move on,” Gomes said. “We had plenty of opportunities this week, but again, you’ve just got to put it past you. The beauty about baseball is we get to play again tomorrow. Just got to set the tone against Texas and keep moving forward.”
Jackson left the game prior to the fifth inning with left quad tightness and is listed as day-to-day.
“It’s a quad,” said Francona. “We got to wait until tomorrow to see how he’s doing. It’s not a bad (injury). There’s even some thought that maybe it’s a cramp, but we’ll know more tomorrow.”
The Indians open a four-game series against the Rangers on Monday at 7:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-3, 2.99) tossed 5.2 innings of two-run ball in his first outing of the season vs. Texas on April 4. Since then, the 30-year-old has registered seven additional victories, six of which have been quality starts.
LHP Cole Hamels (2-0, 3.03) will come off the disabled list (strained right oblique) and pitch for the first time since April 26. The San Diego native has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his five appearances this year.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.