Rehabbing Tomlin helps lead Captains to 3-2 win
Paulino walk-off sends Lake County to victory
EASTLAKE – Cleveland Indians' pitcher Josh Tomlin seemed to have ignited a spark of luck as he made a rehab appearance for the Lake County Captains, assisting the team to a 3-2 win on Thursday.
Right-hander Dylan Baker (6-6, 4.08) received the start for the Captains to counter Fort Wayne lefty Max Fried (4-5, 3.95), who is Baseball America's second-ranked top prospect in the San Diego Padres' organization.
Though he ran into a jam in the first, Baker managed to keep the damage to a minimum. The trouble began immediately as Baker plunked designated hitter Mallex Smith to start the game. Smith stole second and advanced to third on a bunt single by center fielder Alberth Martinez before Baker also hit second baseman Maxx Tissenbuam to load the bases. With one out, left fielder Luis Domoromo grounded out to third to score Smith, giving the TinCaps the 1-0 lead.
One more crossed the dish for Fort Wayne in the second inning as shortstop Tyler Stubblefield drew a leadoff walk. A groundout pushed Stubblefield to second and a one-out single from the bat of Smith sent him home for the 2-0 advantage.
That was all Baker permitted as he remained in the game through five, sealing his line at 5.2 innings, surrendering two earned runs on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Baker was replaced with reliever Cody Penny, who completed the sixth inning before giving way to Tomlin.
Tomlin tossed the seventh inning for the Captains, where he retired the side in order. Tomlin threw eight pitches, six of which were strikes. His velocity topped out at 92 miles per hour as he threw a mix of his fastball, change-up, curveball and cutter.
"It felt great," Tomlin said. "It's good to go out there and get your work in. If it takes eight pitches, that's all the merrier."
Tomlin said he also threw 25 to 30 pitches in his bullpen session warming up and that his arm is feeling good. "I know the process is 12 months, but I feel really good right now and hopefully once I start building up those innings, I'll feel the same way," he said.
The former starter said he hopes to return to the big league club by the end of the season, especially with the Indians recent hot streak. He also said it's too early to determine whether he'll be in a starting or relieving role.
"I don't care, either one," Tomlin noted. "I just want to get back to the big leagues and pitch, help the Indians win as much as I can."
Meanwhile, Fried stumped the Lake County offense through six innings. Fried was replaced with Joe Church to start the seventh, where the Captains pounced on the reliever. With one out, right fielder Jorge Martinez drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Left fielder Nick Hamilton followed with a single to center to advance Martinez to third, and a wild pitch allowed the runner to score. With two out, shortstop Dorssys Paulino also singled to center to score Hamilton, tying the game at 2-2.
Reliever Grant Sides pitched a pair of zeroes for the eighth and ninth inning before the Captains crafted a walk-off rally. Second baseman Todd Hankins singled to left to lead off the inning and swiped second on a close play. With two out, Paulino tapped a ground ball to the shortstop for a fielder's choice that sent Hankins home to beat the throw, preserving the Captains with the 3-2 victory.
Next, the Captains turn to right-hander Robbie Aviles (3-3, 4.12) to counter TinCaps righty Matt Shepherd (4-3, 3.65).
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.