Results tagged ‘ Austin Kearns ’
After struggling in his Major League debut in 2011, Indians pitcher Zach McAllister’s confidence has him in a groove in the big leagues.
The Tribe acquired McAllister from the Yankees in a 2010 trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to New York. The trade evidently paid off for Cleveland, where McAllister has been thriving on the mound in recent starts.
McAllister was called up to the Major Leagues on July 7, 2011, when he started and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks in four innings. McAllister had been told prior to the outing that it was a spot start, and he would be sent down to Columbus following the game.
“Obviously, I think I would have liked to pitch a little better in my debut,” McAllister said. “It was like a little kid, his dream finally came true. You had all those nerves and everything, and you try to keep them calm and just try to perform. It was really exciting for me.”
The Indians did defeat Toronto 5-4 in the game, however, and McAllister’s family made the eight-hour drive from Chillicothe, IL, to see him after his first start.
“I have a lot of friends and family members from back home that came up to the game, so that was kind of a surprise to see all of them after the game,” he said.
McAllister, 24, made three additional starts last season and worked hard this offseason to remain consistent with his pitches.
The Indians called him up again for a day-night doubleheader versus the White Sox on May 7, 2012, and he wound up starting three more games in place of then-injured Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin. McAllister was most recently called up to replace struggling Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez.
In three games since being called up, McAllister is 2-0 and has allowed just five earned runs in 17.1 innings against the likes of the Orioles, Angels, and Rays. He said he credits his consistency for his extended stay in Cleveland.
“This year, it’s just being a little more consistent with all my pitches and being able to execute them when I need to. That was my biggest thing last year,” he said. “I think there are a lot of guys that are talented enough to be here, but they’re not consistent enough. That kind of hurts them a little bit.”
McAllister said he has made an effort to develop a relationship with his catchers and his fellow starting pitchers in his short stint with the club this season.
“[Indians catchers Carlos Santana and Lou Marson] are the ones that are back there every day trying to catch you. It’s just being able to sit down and talk to them and going over what you want to do and being able to have a normal conversation with them on the bench,” he said. “That’s a work in progress, but it’s coming along.
“All of the [starting pitchers] have helped me in some sort of way, whether it’s talking to me or just being able to watch them during the game and see how they go about their business.”
McAllister’s performance has eliminated a portion of uncertainty as he has settled in as a critical component of the Indians starting rotation. The Indians will need McAllister to continue his run throughout the second half in order to remain in contention.
“It’s definitely a little more enjoyable being able to come to the field every day and not have to worry about getting called to the office and being sent down,” McAllister said. “I can’t just go out and pitch and expect to get by. I have to perform, and if I don’t, I know I can get sent down. It’s a challenge, but I look forward to that challenge.”
McAllister said confidence has been a large reason for his success thus far as he looks to remain in the win column for the Tribe.
“[Confidence] is probably one of the biggest things you can have as an athlete. You might not have the best stuff, but if you’re confident that what you have is going to get guys out, then you’re going to be successful the majority of the time,” he said. “I’ve been able to have a pretty good confidence up here, so I just want to stay on that, get on a roll, and keep it going.”
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor
Taking over Grandma’s backyard and dominating neighborhood home run derby as a kid, Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin is evidently comfortable swinging a bat.
Tomlin’s father, Jerry, signed him up for T-ball when he was four years old and spent hours sitting with him in front of the television, always watching baseball.
“[My dad] told me to watch the game and pick up everything I could,” Tomlin, 27, said. “I think that’s what made me better. I enjoyed watching baseball.
“I enjoyed being out there with my dad all the time. It’s something that brought us closer together, and it was something I loved to do.”
Tomlin, an only child, grew up alongside a busy highway. He said he typically rode the bus to a friend’s house or biked a few miles away to meet up with a group of friends.
When Tomlin was nine years old, Jerry constructed a baseball field in his grandmother’s backyard, where Tomlin and his friends met to play home run derby.
“We put a backstop there and a pitcher’s mound, and we’d go over there basically every day after school and play, just me and the other guys,” he said.
Tomlin played shortstop for two years at Angelina Junior College, where he hit .351 (73-208) with 17 doubles, four triples, one home run, and 42 RBI his sophomore year. Tomlin recorded eight stolen bases and was never caught stealing that year.
In 2006, Tomlin transferred to Texas Tech and became a pitcher. Upon completion of his junior year, the Cleveland Indians drafted Tomlin, who had recorded just seven starts in 13 appearances (40.2 innings) and an ERA of 4.20.
“The Indians made the decision for me,” he said. “I knew I probably wouldn’t make it to the big leagues as an infielder. I wouldn’t be able to compete up here as a hitter at all. I wouldn’t hit home runs; I’d probably hit singles and that’s it.”
Tomlin has done just that thus far in his career with the Tribe. In Interleague play this season, Tomlin finished 2-for-5 (.400) at the plate. In his career with Cleveland, he is 4-for-7 (.571).
He credits his success at the plate to the bat that [former Indians outfielder] Austin Kearns once gave him.
“When it comes to hitting, it’s mainly a joke more than anything else,” Tomlin said. “I enjoy hitting. I enjoy being a part of the game as a whole — not just on one side, playing defense. I feel like you can take a little bit of pride in [hitting] if you can help your team in any way possible.”
Despite owning bragging rights among Indians pitchers during batting practice, Tomlin said that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s play has convinced Tomlin that he could not compete in the field at this level.
“I don’t think I could ever play like that,” Tomlin said. “He’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The stuff he does defensively is pretty ridiculous. He makes plays look routine, makes difficult plays look easy.”
Through all of Tomlin’s success on the mound in Cleveland, Tomlin does not have to look too far to be reminded of where he came from. His thick southern accent and southern fashion has given Indians manager Manny Acta reason to nickname Tomlin the “Little Cowboy.”
“In 2010, he told me I need to get the cowboy up on the mound and get this last guy, so ever since then, that’s what he’s been calling me,” Tomlin said. “I think the reason he calls me that is because I wear cowboy boots every single day he sees me.”
Tomlin may have upgraded his view from the couch in his living room in Tyler, TX, to the Cleveland Indians dugout, but Jerry sure has not budged throughout his son’s impressive career.
“We talk a lot. He’ll call me and talk to me about [my game],” Tomlin said. “We go over what he thinks, but he kind of knows that it’s my experience. He just gives me words of encouragement, and we go from there.”
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor