Let’s do our recap in three pieces.
Josh Tomlin is becoming a sneaky good pitcher.* What if I told you that Tomlin pitched eight innings, threw only 95 pitches and somehow racked up seven strikeouts with ZERO walks? Yes, it’s against the lowly Mariners, but on the young season, Tomlin’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is now sitting at 14.00! Which, fine, is ridiculously unsustainable. But it also demonstrates that Tomlin is somehow—against all odds—still doing the exact same thing he’s been doing for two years: walking no one. And it’s just insane how effective that can be when you start paying attention.
*I’ve decided to call Tomlin “The Dipper”. You should be able to figure that out. And you’re going to have to deal with it.
Tomlin gave up five hits—four for extra bases. This should strike us as scary. After all, extra base hits allowed should indicate that a pitcher is being hit particularly hard. But what we know about Tomlin is that he is destined to be hit particularly hard. He just doesn’t have the stuff to induce weak contact. To survive, he must make up for his deficiencies by eschewing walks and, when possible, mixing in strikeouts. Last night, he was successful on both accounts.
In fact, the only run Tomlin allowed came in the bottom of the fifth. After allowing a lead-off double to Michael Saunders, Miguel Olivo followed with a sacrifice bunt to get Saunders to third with one out. John Jaso then bounced a ball to an off-balance Kipnis, who couldn’t make an accurate thrown to home plate. That was the lone blemish on Tomlin’s record.
Other than that Tomlin was brilliant. Brilliant for his strikeouts. Brilliant for his lack of walks. Brilliant for his efficiency. Which is more important than we tend to remember.
But to be honest, we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to be enough to give the Indians a win, because…
Felix Hernandez is a gol-darned beast! Were you impressed by Josh Tomlin’s seven strikeouts? Because Felix thinks that’s for seventh-grade wimp-bags. King Felix K’d twelve batters—wait, I should write “12” because that’s so darn many strikeouts that we use Arabic numbers—Felix K’d “12” Indians over his eight innings, while allowing only five singles. Through the first seven innings, the Mariners’ ace allowed only two hits. In a word, Felix is a machine. The Mariners were winning this game heading into the ninth inning, and to be completely honest, they deserved to be winning the game at that point. Felix was that good.
The Indians ended up winning this game for two reasons: (1) they drove up Felix’s pitch count—126 pitches over his eight innings; and (2)….
Jack Hannahan is a Bad, Bad Man. I’ve trained myself not to be emotional about these sorts of things. While I find it preferable for Shelley Duncan to drive in all of our runs, I’m not particularly opposed to other players contributing. And while I understand that Chris Perez is the designated closer, I’m not against using Vinnie Pestano in a pinch. (See what I did there?)
Which brings me to Jack Hannahan and his knack for making us happy. For a guy who hit only .250/.331/.388 (.711) in 2011–a season widely recognized as his best on record–the fans of Cleveland tend to have an unnatural belief that Hannahan is a completely respectable option at a corner position that typically demands above average offense. Have I mentioned that he’s now made four errors in 2012 (only one player in MLB currently has more)? Super-DUPER! (Quiet Steiner! This is not how you make friends, dummy! )
Entering the top of the ninth, down 1-0, Carlos Santana drew a walk (of course he did). Travis Hafner followed with a broken bat single to right. After a Kotchman laid a sacrifice bunt (for goodness’ sake, you guys, he’s a FIRST BASEMAN) and a Dunker’s walk, Jack Hannahan was ready for his close up.
And of course, the Gritty One delivered, with an opposite field single to score Santana and Hafner. With that, the Indians took a 2-1 lead and an improbable 91.7% chance of winning the game that, heretofore, looked pretty hopeless.
To top it off, Chris Perez sent down the heart of the Mariners’ lineup in the bottom of the ninth with nary a whimper: Ichiro groundout; Smoak K swinging; Seager fly out. Winner. Winner. Poultry will be had for supper.
For only the second time this season, the Indians find themselves with a winning record. Next up on the west coast swing comes the Oakland A’s and Ubaldo’s latest chance at relevance tonight at 10:05 PM
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)