CLEVELAND — Josh Tomlin has been with the Cleveland Indians longer than any player.
The right-hander was selected in the 19th round of the 2006 amateur draft from Texas Tech, then made his major league debut on July 27, 2010.
Now, the 32-year-old has a chance to pitch the franchise to its first World Series title since 1948 as he will start Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta in Game 6 at Progressive Field.
The Indians hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-the-seven series after the Cubs staved off elimination Sunday night with a 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
“It means a lot to not just to 25 guys that are in that locker room but the organization as a whole,” Tomlin said of being in position to win it all. “There have been a lot of guys that have been here a long time and never got to experience anything like this. So, for us to be able to experience this as an organization is very special to us, and it’s something that we are humbled to be able to do.
“We understand it’s not just about getting here, it’s about trying to win as well. There’s nobody in that clubhouse that’s complacent. It’s not like we have a 3-2 lead, it’s just going to happen. That’s not the mindset we take at all.”
Tomlin pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in Game 3, falling one out shy of qualifying for the win in the Indians’ 1-0 victory. He is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA in three postseason starts after going 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 30 games, including 29 starts, during the regular seasons.
Arrieta, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner, pitched 5.2 shutout innings to get the win in Game 2 and is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three starts in this postseason following a regular-season in which went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts.
He, meanwhile, will be trying to keep the Cubs’ chances of winning their first world championship since 1908 alive. It is a lot to carry on one’s shoulders, but the 30-year-old righty says he is not feeling any extra pressure.
“It’s just like any other game where you feel comfortable with the game plan and you go out there to do your best to follow through on the execution,” Arrieta said. “So, that’s really the only thing that I’ll be thinking about, is just trying to be efficient, trying to be as good as I can about moving the ball in and out, up and down and changing speeds and trying to keep those guys off balance.”
Tomlin will be trying to deliver Cleveland its second championship in six months. The Cavaliers won the NBA Finals in June, giving the city its first major professional sports championship since 1964, when the Browns won the NFL pre-Super Bowl.
“I watched a little bit of the parade,” Tomlin said. “We had a game that day, so I remember it was tough to get to the ballpark. The city was in full support of what they just accomplished, and they should be. What they accomplished was huge, and it was cool to watch. The support the city has given us all year long has been huge.
“So it would be an honor for us to be able to have another parade here and to see that support that the Cavs got as well. But our main focus right now is to try to win this thing so we can have a parade.”