Tomlin, who was recently removed from the rotation, came out of the bullpen to relieve Vinnie Pestano in the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday against the Tigers. Austin Jackson greeted Tomlin with a leadoff triple to right-center field, putting the winning run only 90 feet away with nobody out.
After Tomlin struck out Omar Infante, Indians manager Manny Acta made a creative decision. With sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder due up and two bases open, Acta decided to intentionally walk both of them. The Tribe skipper then removed one of his outfielders to add an extra player on the infield.
"We went up there and just said, 'Hey, we're going to let this kid beat you,'" Acta said. "'We're going to walk these two guys, and what you're going to do is just cut the ball into his hands the whole time because we're going to have a five-man infield.'"
Tomlin did what he was asked to do, and he got Quintin Berry to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"It was fun," he said. "It was one of the most intense situations I've ever been in in the big leagues. Obviously you don't want to be in that situation where you have a guy on third where that guy wins the game, but it's fun to go out there and try to compete in that atmosphere."
Added Acta: "He was perfect for that type of situation. He was as cool as you can be out there. He didn't show any emotion, and he really executed pitches."
Acta said last week that Tomlin would likely remain in a relief role for the remainder of the season. For now, that's just fine with the right-hander. Tomlin has allowed only one earned run over his first 3 1/3 innings out of the bullpen after going 5-8 with a 5.75 ERA in 16 starts.
"The only difference is you don't know which day you're going to pitch," Tomlin said, "and some of that is kind of good for some people.
"I definitely enjoy starting. I definitely would like to continue to start, but if you're not getting the job done, you've got to find a way to get outs. I wasn't getting the job done this year as a starter, so hopefully I can find that little niche in the bullpen and compete for a job next year."