Josh Tomlin made a triumphant return to the Indians rotation Tuesday, not only helping to snap the Indians two-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory, but recording his first major league win in nearly two years.
In his first big league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery and enduring the ensuing recovery that cost the right hander nearly all of the 2013 season, Tomlin limited the visiting Minnesota Twins to a run on four hits and a walk over 6 2/3 solid innings.
Tomlin’s teammates welcomed him back with an early cushion with which to work - a rarity during the Tribe’s recent lean offensive days. After Tomlin needed just 13 pitches to sit down the Twins in order to start the game, the offense rewarded him with two runs in the first inning and then two more of the insurance variety in the second against Twins starting pitcher Samuel Deduno.
Nick Swisher sparked the offense in the bottom of the first inning with a double off the centerfield wall that snapped his 0-for-11 skid. Michael Brantley followed with a run-scoring double to put the Indians on the board. A Buckneresque error on first-baseman Chris Colabello (a ball right under his outstretched glove near the bag) allowed Brantley to score and pad the Tribe’s lead to two runs.
The Indians went right back after Deduno in the second inning when Lonnie Chisenhall led off the inning with a single, then advanced to second base on a balk. Yan Gomes followed with a sharp double right up the middle that might have decapitated Deduno had he not ducked, and Swisher continued his offensive momentum with a two-out single that drove in Gomes and pushed the lead to four unanswered runs.
Deduno, a reliever making his first start of the season in place of the injured Mike Pelfrey – on the disabled list with a groin injury, finally began to settle in and kept the Indians off the board for the next three innings. The right-hander finished his five-inning outing having allowed the four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks, striking out two.
But the strike-throwing Tomlin kept the Twins offense in check through six dominating innings before Colabello made up for the run he allowed with of his for the Twins via a one-out solo home run that broke up Tomlin’s shut out bid.
But even with Indians set-up man Cody Allen and struggling closer John Axford unavailable to pitch Tuesday with a day off after being heavily used recently, relievers Marc Rzepczynski, Scott Atchison and Bryan Shaw limited the Twins a final run in the ninth inning to preserve Tomlin’s much-deserved victory. Shaw picked up his first save of the season.