Gomez continues to impress in win
Brantley has four hits as Indians end four-game slide
CLEVELAND -- The Indians would prefer that Jeanmar Gomez pitch in Triple-A at this stage of his career.
Then again, they can't complain about how well he's taken to the Major Leagues.
Gomez fired six-plus innings of one-run ball against the Orioles on Thursday night, leading the Tribe to a 4-1 victory at Progressive Field that prevented a three-game sweep.
Making his fourth big league appearance, the 22-year-old righty improved to 3-0 after scattering six hits and walking none in an 88-pitch effort. He has yielded two or fewer runs in each of his outings with the Indians, good for a 1.54 ERA that is the lowest in franchise history among pitchers through four starts.
That Gomez did not issue a single free pass particularly wowed Tribe manager Manny Acta.
"He was behind in the count a lot, but he made great pitches when he had to," Acta said. "He had that good sink on his fastball and a good changeup. He just made great pitches."
The recipient of those pitches, catcher Lou Marson, hasn't been surprised by Gomez's success.
"He's a composed guy," said Marson, who caught Gomez in the Minors. "He's done well and hopefully that can continue. He hasn't changed anything. He's been aggressive going right at guys, which is what you want. Good for him. He's a mature kid who's got good stuff."
Said Gomez: "I was thankful for the opportunity to throw."
He was also thankful for the early lead his teammates spotted him. The Indians grabbed a first-inning lead courtesy of Trevor Crowe's foot speed. With two on and two down, Crowe beat out a ground ball to shortstop Cesar Izturis that plated Michael Brantley, who led off with a single to center field against Orioles starter Kevin Millwood.
Brantley equaled a career high with four hits atop Acta's lineup.
"He set the table very well," Acta said of Brantley, who is hitting .198 this season but .375 (9-for-24) in six games since his Aug. 6 recall. "It's only a matter of time for him. It's going to take a while before he can look up at the scoreboard and see a higher batting average, but it's there and it's not going away. I think he feels comfortable right now. He's swinging the bat well and getting things going for us in the leadoff hole."
The Tribe extended its advantage in the second. Jason Donald began the home half of the frame with a knock to center, advanced to third on Andy Marte's double to left and scored via a groundout to third base by Marson, who worked Millwood for a seven-pitch at-bat.
"Our plan was to make him throw the ball over the plate," Acta said of Millwood, who allowed three runs over seven innings. "He pitched a good ballgame, but we scored enough runs to win."
Millwood's second pitch of the fifth hit the right hand of Shin-Soo Choo, who was examined by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff before trotting down to first. Crowe made Millwood pay for his wildness, rocking a one-out double to center that delivered Choo.
The Orioles touched up Gomez for a two-out run in the sixth, when Ty Wigginton singled home Josh Bell with a knock to center.
That was all the O's offense could muster opposite Gomez.
"We just couldn't get it going," Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones said. "He had a good sinker. That's all he threw. Basically, he threw his sinker all game and it was working for him. I wish we got the opportunity to see him again, but we don't."
Gomez's performance conjured up memories for O's manager Buck Showalter, a special assistant with the Indians in 2007.
"I got that one right," Showalter said. "I saw him when he was 19, 20 years old and turned in some reports on him. Any time you see a young pitcher, you can only look at so much tape to prepare. He had good late life on his fastball and he got a lot of outs on the ground. He pounded the strike zone, too.
"I was impressed by him. You can see why they're so high on him."
Cleveland pushed across an eighth-inning insurance run against the Baltimore bullpen. Facing Jason Berken with two out, Asdrubal Cabrera laced an RBI single to left to score Marte, who reached on a fielding error by third baseman Bell.
"We had some good timely hitting," Acta said.
The Indians also had some airtight relief from Rafael Perez and Chris Perez, who combined to hurl three scoreless frames in support of Gomez.
"We definitely didn't want to get swept by those guys at home," said Chris Perez, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. "That probably would have been the low point of our season.
"That's what happens when you get good starting pitching."
Gomez provided just that. Frankly, he doesn't know any better.
"For his age, his composure is above-average," Acta said. "One thing is to have three good pitches and to be able to command them, and another is composure, and he has that. He's mature beyond his age. He's able to slow things down. He hasn't been intimidated by anything up here so far. There are times out there when he looks like he's probably better off down there developing, but he's pitched well four times for us now.
"He just continues to go out there and pitch without fear. From what we've learned about him, he's not going to back down if a team hits him around. That's not the kind of guy that he is."
Through four starts, he's been a guy who has impressed the Indians quite a bit.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.