Fives alive for Tribe ace

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:25 PM ET

BOSTON - The Cleveland Indians are like one of your visiting uncles from overseas.

They come over for a two-week visit but, three months later, there they are, still occupying you guest bedroom.

As the all-star break approaches, the Indians remain atop the Central Division, refusing to do the predictable and fall back to earth with a thud. The perennial doormats have become one of the better feel-good stories of the season.

The Indians, who in their glory days rose to prominence because of a barrage of heavy hitters, this season have snuck up on the competition on the strength of their pitching.

The Tribe’s bullpen has the second lowest ERA in the AL while its rotation is led by 26-year-old right-hander Josh Tomlin, who is 10-4 with a 3.78.

In Tomlin, the Indians believe they have something special. In his last start, Monday against the Yankees, he pitched seven solid innings in their 6-3 victory. By doing so, Tomlin became the first pitcher since 1919 to throw at least five innings in each of his first 29 career starts.

“It’s very impressive,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said following the game. “If you go way back when, that means there were a lot of guys before him that couldn’t do that. He just passed (Boston’s Daisuke) Matsuzaka. You heard all about the stuff that he had, and here comes this little cowboy from Texas and it’s money in the bank for five innings.”

Tomlin’s success is built on pinpoint control and — stealing a bit from Roy Halladay’s page — he simply doesn’t get in trouble by walking batters.

In Monday’s victory, Tomlin walked one batter, the lone walk in his past four starts. On the season he has walked just 13 batters in 1092/3 innings

“If he walks one, it surprises me,” Acta said. “If he walks more, I want to blame the umpire. He’s remarkable.

“I’m not saying he’s straight to Cooperstown, but I just don’t see a guy that can throw four pitches and locate them not having a career up here.”

The Jays will face him on Saturday.

The Jays may also be facing a club that is getting some injured key parts back into their lineup.

Acta said the team would activate Matt LaPorta from the 15-day disabled list in a day or two. The first baseman has been sidelined since June 17 with a high ankle sprain.

On the down side, RHP Fausto Carmona went on the 15-day DL on the weekend with a quadriceps strain following a YouTube-worthy tumble over the first-base bag during an interleague game in Cincinnati.

He will be replaced in Thursday’s game by right-hander Zach McAllister, who will be making his major-league debut.


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