For the second time in five days, Josh Tomlin stepped up for Manny Acta and the Indians pitching staff. Pitching on three days rest, Tomlin got the nod at the last minute as Jake Westbrook was scratched from the lineup with a trade to St. Louis falling into place. Tomlin, once again, filled in extremely well and aided a pitching staff and bullpen that Mark Shapiro characterized as “severely taxed.”
Tomlin was not expected to pitch deep into the game with the plan being to cover your eyes and cobble together some innings with Tomlin on the front end and the recent bullpen call ups through the rest of the game. The youngster ended up pitching into the sixth, however, with complete control and efficiency. He gave up four hits and one run while striking out five in just 83 pitches. It was exactly what the Tribe’s pitching staff needed and as it turns out, kept the Tribe’s scuffling lineup in it on this day as well.
Brett Cecil, although not as efficient, matched Tomlin over 6 innings giving up only 1 run on a bases loaded walk to Jason Donald in fourth inning. The Indians lineup, however, could not mount any sort of further rally and Tomlin left the game with a no decision. Trying to avoid their 4 straight loss after getting blown out three nights in a row, the Indians put their 2nd and winning run on the board in the 7th. It was a quick strike to take the lead after Asdrubal Cabera walked and scored from first on a pitch shot double down the line from Shin-Soo Choo.
The bullpen took over from there and held the Jays scoreless over three and two-thirds. Jensen Lewis, who was recalled on Friday with Mitch Talbot going to the DL, induced a double play to get out of a 6th inning jam. Joe Smith induced another DP in the following inning to get out of another potential rally and quickly worked through a clean 8th. It was up to closer Chris Perez to finish off the Jays in the most pressurized save position.
He certainly made it eventful, putting the first two men on base. After a Jays sacrifice and an intentional walk, Perez K’d his was out of the bases loaded jam. He quickly dispatched Edwin Encarnacion and after putting Travis Snider up 2-0 in the count, battled back and K’d him for the save and the win. Although he has been the Tribe’s closer all season in everything but name, it was a huge save and important moment for Perez – who is now officially the Tribe’s closer.
That designation is a result of the Indians completing their fourth trade of the week and shipping Kerry Wood to the New York Yankees. As with Kearns, the Indians will receive a player to be named later and the Yankees will pick up $1.5 of the remaining $3.73 million left on his deal this year. The Indians will get an additional 500k if Wood stays healthy. Wood was activated yesterday morning to take the place vacated by Austin Kearns, who he will be joining in NY. The deal came together right up against the 4 PM deadline as the game with the Jays drew to a close.
The salary relief was a large incentive for making the deal on the Tribe’s end. Wood, however, meant nothing to this team over the final two months of the season. He had been checked out since the season started. He was one of the few examples where the Dolan family spent some money to try and shore up the bullpen after a disastrous 2008 season from that group. It was thought to be the final major hurdle to getting back to the postseason with much of the same team from 2007′s run.
The Indians, however, were never in it last season and never had any intentions of being in it this season so Wood’s value, and his attitude, diminished. We’ve heard multiple anecdotes of Wood not exactly being a bullpen leader and positive influence – basically the opposite of how Manny Acta described his teammate Austin Kearns on Friday night. Wood wanted out and the Indians were less than impressed with his attitude all season. With something to play for, I imagine he will be a healthy and effective reliever for New York, although Harold Reynolds disagrees, “I can’t see . . . putting the game on the line . . . in a fly-ball ballpark, where the ball jumps, with a guy who throws the ball who gives up fly balls. It just doesn’t fit for me.”
With Wood gone and the deadline passed, the Indians are unlikely to trade anyone during the waiver season. It will be an interesting and potentially mind-numbing two months for Tribe fans watching their Wahoos on the mound. Jeanmar Gomez is likely to get his second start of the season this afternoon as we scratch our way through the rest of the season.