Here are 16 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 9-2 loss to the Texas Rangers Monday night.
1. Josh Tomlin had his first poor outing of the season and Ryan Merritt made a positive debut. But, a key play from Monday night was Indians manager Terry Francona getting ejected for the first time this season and the 41st time in his career.
2. In the third inning of a 3-0 game, the Rangers had runners on the corners with two outs. Mitch Moreland hit a slow roller down the first-base line that Tomlin fielded, but his throw hit Moreland, allowing Ian Desmond to score and the inning to continue.
3. Francona came out to argue that Moreland was running along/inside the base line, meaning it would have been interference. He eventually returned to the dugout and then was ejected by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez. Francona came out a second time, and Gonzalez walked away from him. He finally returned to the dugout, pointing at the scoreboard showing the replay.
4. Francona was still obviously upset after the game and still awaiting an explanation.
5. Said Francona, “I probably saw it like everyone else did. If you had a chance to look at it, the runner veered back into the baseline. He started out okay, but it looked like he wanted to get in the way of the throw. I think that’s exactly why they put the rule in place. I don’t know what he saw. I didn’t get a very good explanation. I couldn’t get any explanation. … He didn’t say anything. Kept saying, ‘That’s what I have.’ When I went out the second time after he threw me out, he wouldn’t talk to me. I’m still waiting. … I saw it on the board. I couldn’t live with that.”
6. Instead of the Indians getting out of the inning down 3-0, a run scored on that play and Elvis Andrus added an RBI-single to make it 5-0.
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7. Tomlin finished with nine hits and eight runs allowed (four earned), no walks and one strikeout, raising his season ERA to 3.79. After starting the season 7-0, the first Indians pitcher to do that since Dennis Martinez started the 1995 season 9-0, this was the first time Tomlin had been roughed up. He's been one of the more reliable back-end-of-the-rotation starters in baseball. But Monday night was not a good outing.
8. Said Tomlin, “Just executing pitches and being able to go deep into the game to be able to get a decision. That was not any of my thinking going into it, knowing that I was 7-0. My job is to try to go as deep as I can, whether you get a decision or not. That's what I try to do every time out. I just didn't execute the pitches when I needed to execute them today, and put our team in a bad spot early on and they just kept building on that first inning and I didn't limit the damage enough, and once they kind of tasted blood, they just kept piling it on. My job as a starting pitcher is to try to limit that as much as I can and go as deep as I can in the game to give the guys a chance to come back, and that definitely didn't happen tonight.”
9. Mike Napoli hit his team-leading 11th home run of the season and Marlon Byrd went 4-for-4 and was a triple away from the cycle. That was the Indians’ offense Monday night.
10. A small positive: Ryan Merritt finally got into a game. He was called up for last Monday’s doubleheader in Chicago but has been sitting in the bullpen, as the Indians couldn’t find the right situation for him to enter the game. That came on Monday night, and he took full advantage of it. After the Rangers ripped through Tomlin and rookie Nomar Mazara absolutely crushed a three-run home run off of Austin Adams, Merritt threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out two.
11. Said Francona, “Good for him. He’s been waiting patiently. Keeping his eyes open. He came in and threw the ball over the plate. Got a double play. Really did well. I’m sure he’s taking a sigh of relief that he’s pitched. He held his nerves in check and he threw strikes.”
12. Yan Gomes was impressed, saying, “That was pretty impressive. I think I caught a couple of his bullpens and maybe a game in spring training. That was pretty impressive. That was pretty good stuff that he brought out there. He kept his cool, especially for facing a lineup that -- if you were watching from the bullpen, they were swinging pretty well. They weren't letting many mistakes go. He came in, hit his spots and did a heck of a job. That saves our bullpen for the next couple of games.”
13. After a week, Merritt was obviously nervous, saying, “Oh, yeah. Pretty nervous and a lot of anticipation, but it was worth it getting out there, getting my toes wet, getting a feel for the Major Leagues. It was fun. … I think any newcomer can be nervous, but tried to do my best to stay calm and not let the nerves get to me too much or not stress too much. But definitely nervous. I’m sure I’ll be nervous the next time I go out.”
14. The Indians will have a decision to make once Carlos Carrasco is healthy and ready to return to the rotation, which could potentially be in the next couple of days. Mike Clevinger is a natural option to be sent down. Merritt is the probably the next likeliest to get the call back to Triple-A Columbus, perhaps when Joba Chamberlain is ready to come off the disabled list. At least now, if he does, he has his major-league debut under his belt.
15. Gomes wore clear glasses for the first time Monday night. He was having trouble getting used to his contacts and decided to try them out. He’s now hitting .175 this season, so he could be trying anything at this point.
16. Said Gomes, “It's been something that I've been working on during spring training. I've tried contacts and some dirt or something got in my eye and I can't get used to them. So I got the glasses. They finally came in. I might as well try them out now. … Really, they didn't bother me at all, other than some times in the dugout, I got sweat a little bit and they fogged up. It's just like wearing sunglasses or anything like that. It's just an adjustment period.”