CLEVELAND - For Indians starter Josh Tomlin, Monday night was as tough as a start the Indians hurler has had since he returned to the team last season after Tommy John surgery.
The usually reliable Tomlin went just 3.2 innings, allowing eight runs, four earned, as the Indians were beat up by the Texas Rangers 9-2 at Progressive Field Monday night.
It was Tomlin's first loss of the season, and for just the second time in 89 career starts he failed to go at least four innings. It was his shortest outing since a 7-1 loss to the Yankees in New York back on June 25th, 2012.
The game turned on two key plays for Tomlin and the Indians. The first was a homerun by Texas second basemen Ian Desmond in the second at-bat of the game to put Texas up quickly 2-0.
The next was a play that was mired in controversy, as Rangers Mitch Moreland hit a roller down the first base line, and Tomlin picked it up to throw him out, which would have been the last out in the third inning with the game already sitting at 3-0.
Instead, Tomlin hit Moreland right between the shoulder blades, and the play was ruled an error on the pitcher, and Moreland was allowed to stay at first.
The play allowed Desmond to score to make it 4-0, and after Indians manager Terry Francona was tossed for arguing the call, the Rangers added another run to make it a 5-0 game in the middle of the third inning.
"He left a cutter up early, the second hitter of the game, and they just tacked on," Francona said. "It had a chance to be three with the little roller to first, then they scored a couple of runs as I was going to my office so I'm not sure what happened there."
Tomlin admits that he didn't really know what happened on the play, but from the replays it could have easily been argued that Moreland was inside the line and could have been called out for runner interference.
Instead, the Rangers got two more runs, and a 3-0 game quickly was a runaway at 5-0.
"I tried to throw it inside the line and it might have leaked back and hit him," Tomlin said.
"I haven't had a chance to go back and look at it yet, so I'm not exactly sure if he was inside the line or outside the line. I don't know the rule on that, either.
"So, I can't really dive into detail about what the rule is, or if I thought he was out or safe. In my opinion, I could've done a better job of maybe not rushing that play and maybe just stepping back inside the line a little bit better and making a better throw."
Tomlin came out for the fourth with Francona already back in his office, and allowed three more runs to make it an 8-0 game before getting pulled for Austin Adams.
The Indians offense had little answers for Derek Holland, who held the Tribe down for six innings, and the Rangers rather easily got out of Progressive Field with a 9-2 win.
"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," Tomlin said.
"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."
Hopefully for Tomlin and the Indians, Monday night will be looked back on as a minor bump in the road, and the pitcher can get back on track this weekend when he throws on Saturday against the Royals at Progressive Field.