Toronto Rides Kawasaki to Victory; Blue Jays 5, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 10, Jul 2013
There are games over the course of a 162-game schedule that feel like they were winnable games. Tonight was one of those games that got away from the Cleveland Indians.
A three-run ninth inning, capped off by a bases-clearing single by Munenori Kawasaki, gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 5-4 win over the Indians on Wednesday night.
Rich Hill (0-1) started the ninth in relief of reliever Vinnie Pestano in a 2-2 ball game. Hill struck out the left-handed hitting Adam Lind and walked Colby Rasmus before retiring Maicer Izturis on a flyout to right field. With J.P. Arencibia coming to the plate as a pinch hitter, manager Terry Francona went to Joe Smith to preserve the tie.
Instead, Smith allowed a single to left by Arencibia. A walk to Emilio Bonifacio loaded the bases and, with two outs, Kawasaki delivered a single to the gap in left center. Rasmus scored easily with Arencibia on his heels. Center fielder Michael Bourn mishandled the ball on the play, allowing Bonifacio to score all the way from first.
The game-changing hit for Kawasaki ended an 0-for-18 slide at the plate.
“Smitty had faced Arencibia four times and struck him out four times,” said Francona. “That’s the matchup we wanted.”
The Indians, quiet offensively for most of the game, strung together some two-out magic against the Blue Jays closer, Casey Janssen. Bourn singled sharply to right and moved to second on catcher’s indifference. Asdrubal Cabrera singled him home with a single to center and, like Bourn, was able to move to second and then to third on indifference. Jason Kipnis walked to bring Nick Swisher to the plate as the winning run. The Tribe first baseman grounded the ball deep in the hole between first and second, where Kawasaki fielded the ball but threw high to Edwin Encarnacion at first, allowing Cabrera to score and moving Kipnis and Swisher into scoring position.
Toronto manager John Gibbons went to his bullpen, bringing in All-Star Final Vote candidate Steve Delabar, and with just one pitch, he retired Michael Brantley on a fly out to center field to earn his first career save.
Cleveland had held the lead for most of the game. In the bottom of the second, Esmil Rogers walked the first two batters of the inning. Jason Giambi stepped in and contributed a single to center to score Brantley from second and to move Carlos Santana to third. The Indians, however, were unable to produce any additional runs, as Lonnie Chisenhall flied out, Drew Stubbs struck out, and Bourn grounded into a force at second.
Indians starter Justin Masterson escaped several jams, thanks again to a pair of double play balls in the third and fourth innings. But in the seventh, with his pitch count mounting and a 1-0 lead, he lost control of the game. A one-out double by Lind gave the Blue Jays just their second runner in scoring position in the game. He moved up to third on a ground out by Rasmus. One out away from escaping unharmed, Masterson lost his control and walked Izturis on four straight pitches and Josh Thole in an eight-pitch at bat after getting ahead in the count, 1-2.
With rookie reliever Preston Guilmet warming in the bullpen, Francona stayed with his ace, but his ace could not get the job done. Bonifacio singled to right, driving in both Lind and Izturis as Stubbs overran the ball. Guilmet relieved and struck out Kawasaki to escape further damage.
The Indians tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth off of Blue Jays’ All-Star, Brett Cecil. Bourn singled to center and stole second. After a pair of outs, Swisher walked and Brantley sent an RBI-single into left center field, scoring Bourn to tie the game up at 2-2. A single by Santana loaded the bases, but reliever Neil Wagner (2-3) struck out pinch hitter Ryan Raburn swinging to end the inning.
The loss for the Indians spoiled an outing with suspect control from Masterson. The Indians’ All-Star pitcher pitched six and two-thirds innings and was charged with two earned runs on four hits. He threw 120 pitches on the night, but just 66 for strikes, helping to account for his five walks on the evening. He did not allow a hit until Rasmus led off the top of the fifth with a double to left.
Rogers, Toronto’s starter and the former Cleveland reliever, looked sharp on the mound, striking out seven Indians batters over his six innings of work. He allowed one run on four hits and walked three in a no-decision.
The Indians will look to win the series Thursday afternoon, as Danny Salazar makes his Major League debut against R.A. Dickey. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 PM and will air on Fox Sports SportsTimeOhio and the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images