GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Mitch Talbot knew that he had a spot reserved in the Indians' starting rotation, but that did not stop the pitcher from worrying about the issues he had on the mound early on this spring.
"I was really struggling," Talbot said. "I was wondering what was going on."
On Tuesday afternoon, Talbot bounced back with a solid five-inning performance, before the Indians rallied late for a 9-7 victory over the Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark. Cleveland belted a trio of home runs, but it was Talbot's outing that stood out when it was all said and done.
Over his first three starts of the spring, Talbot had allowed 14 runs (13 earned) over 6 2/3 innings, resulting in a 17.55 ERA. Things did not look much better for Talbot early on against Milwaukee. Rickie Weeks opened the game with a triple off Talbot, and later scored on a sacrifice fly.
2010 Spring Training - Cleveland Indians
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After that early run, Talbot settled down. After a spring of inconsistent command, something finally clicked for Talbot during the first warm-up pitch before the fourth inning. The right-hander finally felt comfortable with his release point, and he was nothing but smiles after his performance.
Talbot, who gave up one run on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks against the Brewers, said it helped knowing he had a place on the Opening Day roster.
"Luckily for me, this year I have that spot," Talbot said. "If I had this last year, I might have been in the bullpen -- and that could've changed a lot of things. It's good that they have that confidence in you to say, 'Hey, you have a spot.'"
At the plate, Carlos Santana, Chad Huffman and Matt LaPorta each belted two-run home runs for the Indians. The first two blasts came against Brewers starter Chris Narveson, who surrendered four runs on six hits with two strikeouts and no walks over 4 2/3 innings on the hill.
"I really wanted to work on the changeup to lefties, and it worked out well because they had a bunch of lefties in there," Narveson said. "It's something I've been working on all spring, and I was able to throw a lot of them."
It helps that he has more pitches to work with. Narveson was on a 60-pitch limit in his fourth spring start, and will be up to 75 next time. That allows him to actually pitch.
"Once you get toward the end [of Spring Training] you have a different approach going in," he said. "You go through how you're going to pitch hitters -- you're going to change it up the second or third time through."
Indians pitcher Anthony Reyes, who was shut down earlier this spring due to right elbow soreness, made his Spring Training debut against the Brewers in the top of the seventh. Reyes faced four batters, issuing one walk and allowing a double before being pulled with two outs. Reliever Jensen Lewis then allowed three-run home runs to Eric Farris and Mike Rivera that put the Brewers up, 7-6.
The Indians rallied for three in the bottom of the seventh. Michael Brantley led off with a single and stole second, before pinch-hitter Adam Everett walked. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a single to center to score Brantley and move Everett to third. After Choo stole second, Paul Phillips singled to score Everett and move Choo to third.
After Huffman walked, Brandon Kintzler replaced John Axford. After striking out pinch-hitter Cord Phelps and LaPorta, Kintzler gave up a single to Jack Hannahan that scored Choo and made the score, 9-7.
Up next for the Brewers: The Crew will play its only Spring Training night game on Wednesday, when Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo takes the mound against the Mariners and right-hander Michael Pineda. Milwaukee is hoping to get shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt back on the field, after he missed the last two games and most of a third with a strained right quadriceps.
Up next for the Indians Cleveland will enjoy its first off-day of Spring Training on Wednesday. While his teammates are taking advantage of the one-day respite, right-hander Josh Tomlin will be pitching in a Minor League game at 1 p.m. ET. On Thursday, the Tribe resumes Cactus League play with a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt against the Reds. Opening Day starter Fausto Carmona will take the mound for the Indians.