CLEVELAND -- If it is possible to throw strikes to a fault, Indians starter Josh Tomlin was doing so in a recent string of rough outings. When the right-hander was working ahead in the count, he was still being hit hard.
Tomlin showed solid improvement during Friday's 5-1 win over the Pirates.
"I was able to locate my pitches better," Tomlin said. "I wasn't throwing as many 0-2, 1-2 strikes. I was making better pitches on 0-2 and 1-2 to hitters."
In Friday's win, Tomlin allowed just one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, finishing with five strikeouts and no walks. In each of his previous three starts, the righty allowed six runs. Part of Tomlin's issue was allowing critical hits when he worked ahead in the count.
"At times," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "we've gotten hurt the last couple weeks when we're way ahead in the count. It's very tough for guys like him to make adjustments and throw the ball two feet outside when they're not used to that."
Entering Saturday, Tomlin was throwing 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, tying him for the highest percentage in the American League. His 66 percent rate for first-pitch strikes was tied for third in the league. Still, Tomlin had allowed 18 percent (seven runs) of his 40 runs when making either an 0-2 or 1-2 pitch.
"We preach as pitchers to get ahead early," Tomlins said. "Once you kind of get in that mode of throwing first-pitch strikes and second-pitch strikes, sometimes you can kind of get lackadaisical and throw a pitch in there for a strike that's 0-2 or 1-2; It doesn't really have a purpose at all, and it gets hit. That's something that can't happen on my end."