Josh Tomlin has a chance to be part of an achievement that only three other sets of Cleveland Indians pitchers have accomplished in more than 90 years.
The right-hander looks to become the second Cleveland pitcher in as many days to start 4-0 when he faces the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Justin Masterson allowed two runs over six innings to win his fourth straight start to open the season in Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over Kansas City. A victory by Tomlin (3-0, 2.75 ERA) in the finale of this four-game set would mark the fourth time since 1920 that at least two Indians pitchers won their first four starts in the same season.
Article continues below ...
After Jim Bagby, Stan Coveleski and Duster Mails did it in 1920, Mel Harder and Bob Lemon were both 4-0 in 1947. Scott Lewis and Cliff Lee matched the feat in 2008.
Tomlin, who won the only open spot in Cleveland’s rotation during spring training after going 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 2010, has allowed six runs and 12 hits in 19 2-3 innings.
He gave up a pair of solo homers in six innings of an 8-3 win over Baltimore on Saturday.
“He doesn’t let the game speed up on him,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official website. “He’s very good at damage control when he gets in those types of situations. That’s the difference between him and some other guys.”
Tomlin is 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA against the Royals. The loss came in his only appearance at Kauffman Stadium, where he allowed six runs in five innings Sept. 19.
Tied with Colorado for the best record in the majors, Cleveland (13-5) overcame a 2-0 deficit Wednesday to win for the fifth time in six games. The Indians, who have an early two-game lead over second-place Kansas City (11-7) in an AL Central that appears upside down, have averaged 6.3 runs during that stretch.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner each had two hits Wednesday while Jack Hannahan drove in two runs as Cleveland scored four times in the sixth inning to improve to 6-3 on the road.
“We definitely have the talent,” Masterson said. “We’re going to keep fighting. It’s a long season but I think we’ve got a lot going for us.”
Hafner is 9 for 18 in his last six games, but 1 for 5 against Sean O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan (1-1, 5.00) will make his second straight start in place of the injured Vin Mazzaro after giving up five hits in five innings of a 7-0 victory over Seattle on Saturday.
The right-hander went 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against the Indians last season.
Though the Royals have lost three of four, Alex Gordon tripled Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He’s batting .391 with all 14 of his RBIs during that stretch.
Teammate Jeff Francoeur has hit in 10 straight after going 2 for 4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs. He is hitting .395 with two home runs and 11 RBIs over that span.
Third baseman Wilson Betemit has hit safely in 11 consecutive games, giving the Royals three players with double-digit hitting streaks for the first time since May 22, 2001.