The Indians’ offense sputtered again and Josh Tomlin ran into some early trouble as the Rays tied the series with a 4-2 win over Cleveland Tuesday night in Tampa Bay. The loss drops the Tribe to 46-44, four games in back of the White Sox in the AL Central.
The Rays opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. B.J. Upton led off with a single before Carlos Pena took Tomlin deep for a two-run home run to put Tampa Bay on top. Jeff Keppinger‘s two-out RBI triple plated Ben Zobrist and gave the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Things were quiet from then until the fourth inning. The Indians loaded the bases with no outs against Matt Moore as Asdrubal Cabrera hit a leadoff single and Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley drew back-to-back walks. Jose Lopez put the Tribe on the board with a sacrifice fly, but Carlos Santana‘s strikeout and Shelley Duncan‘s flyout killed the potential rally.
The Tribe struck again in the top of the fifth. Lou Marson drew a one-out walk and Shin-Soo Choo came through with a base hit to put two on with two outs for Kipnis, who delivered with an RBI single. Brantley’s walk loaded the bases again, but Lopez flew out to end the inning.
Wade Davis, Joel Peralta, Burke Badenhop, and Fernando Rodney shut the Indians down through the late innings. Meanwhile, Tampa managed another run off Tomlin in the sixth before being stopped by Tony Sipp and Jeremy Accardo as the Rays evened the series with a 4-2 win.
The Good: Tony Sipp and Jeremy Accardo combined to throw 2.1 perfect innings, recording two strikeouts and five groundouts. It didn’t end up mattering, but it was good to se a strong performance from the middle relief corps.
The Bad: The obvious here is the offense. Beyond just not hitting the ball well—the Indians combined for just four hits—the team’s trend of squandering scoring opportunities continued. Eleven Cleveland hitters reached base Tuesday night (mostly a reflection of Matt Moore’s lack of command), yet only two crossed the plate. It’s only one game, but it sure seems like we’ve been saying that a lot this year.
Then there’s Josh Tomlin. He was actually quite good in the middle innings—he held the Rays scoreless on two hits and no walks from the second inning through the fifth—but that stretch was bookended by a pair of rough frames. All year we’ve seen Tomlin struggle to limit the damage when he gets into trouble, and we saw things get away from him in the rough first inning and the mini-rally in the sixth.
The “Huh?”: Manny Acta had his rose-colored glasses on for Jose Lopez again Tuesday night, as he hit fifth while Shelley Duncan was relegated to seventh. Lopez is hitting .259/.281/.406, Duncan is slashing .223/.330/.448. They’re both right-handed, so that’s irrelevant. What is going to take before people (both inside and outside the team) realize how overrated Lopez is?
Interesting Tidbit: When Desmond Jennings stole second base in the sixth inning Tuesday night, it marked the first time a runner had stolen a base with Josh Tomlin on the mound since 2010.