BALTIMORE: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway has 18 years of professional baseball experience and was still marveling at what right-hander Josh Tomlin did in Wednesday’s 13-inning, 11-10 win over the Detroit Tigers.
“It’s very unusual. I think I’ve maybe seen it once before,” Callaway said Thursday before the Indians took on the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. “It’s very rare that you have to use your next-day starter in the game the previous day. You’re not mentally prepared, your routine is totally off. He did a good job.”
Tomlin pitched the final three innings and allowed one run, a home run to Alex Avila in the top of the 13th, as the Tigers took a 10-9 lead. But the Indians scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, the game-winner on Al Alburquerque’s balk, as Tomlin earned the victory.
Tomlin (3-1, 2.91) agreed the challenge was more mental.
“Your body doesn’t really know what an extra day — it definitely helps — but you still feel physically just about as good as you’re going to feel,” he said. “My second or third start in the big leagues was on three days rest. I’ve done it before and I’ve done it in the minors before. It’s not anything uncommon. You have to do what you have to do to help your team win.”
Callaway said the Indians told Tomlin he was pitching about a half-inning before.
“He said, ‘Of course, I’ll pitch,’ ” Callaway said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are like that. No egos.”
But because the game was in extra innings, the Indians didn’t want Tomlin to exert himself too hard as he warmed up.
Had the game ended in the 10th, he was going to pitch on his scheduled day Thursday.
“We had to monitor how he got ready for that inning,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had to feel it out, take it easy until it looked like we might not score and then get him up real quick. It’s a situation that never happens, really.”
Francona had considered using Tomlin as a pinch runner for designated hitter Jason Giambi after he singled in the fifth inning, but instead left Giambi in.
“If he would have pinch-run for ‘G,’ then we wouldn’t have had him,” Francona said. “I don’t know what the heck we would have done.”
In his first inning, the 11th, Tomlin faced the bottom of the Tigers’ order and struck out the side, which he believes was a first in his major-league career.
“It got me out of not thinking, ‘My day’s tomorrow.’ You’ve got to get outs now,” Tomlin said. “After the first pitch, the extension I was getting, the arm speed that was there, it was like, ‘OK, this is just a normal day for me.’ ”
Tomlin was thankful the Indians’ hitters bailed him out in the 13th and that he got to pitch in a victory that he said “builds character for a ball team.”
Giambi, 43, an 18-year veteran, called what Tomlin did “gigantic.”
“That’s what he’s all about and that’s what he means to this team,” Giambi said. “Even though he started the season in Triple-A, guys wanted him to be back up here because they know he’s all about winning and being a great teammate and picking up his ballclub.”
When Tomlin was complimented for coming through, he said, “A lot of guys had to come through.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.