Encarnacion Homer Off Tomlin Spoils Five-Run Rally; Blue Jays 6, Indians 5
Bob Toth | On 20, Aug 2016
Never out of a game, the Cleveland Indians rallied for five runs in the fourth inning, only to see Edwin Encarnacion homer off of Josh Tomlin to lead off the fifth as the Toronto Blue Jays held on for a 6-5 win on Saturday night.
The win was big for Toronto (70-53), who needed the victory to keep its top spot in the AL East as the Boston Red Sox knocked off the Detroit Tigers. That Tigers loss aided the Indians (70-51) as well, as their seven-game lead in the AL Central remained intact despite the tough loss in the middle game of their three-game set with the Blue Jays.
The struggles on the mound continued for Tribe starter Tomlin, who was activated prior to the game from the Family Medical Emergency List to make his scheduled start.
The Jays threatened in the first, putting two on the bases with one out, but Tomlin was able to work out of it. The same could not be said in the second, when Toronto strung three straight two-out hits together to take the lead. Darwin Barney started with a bloop single to center and moved to third on a double from Ryan Goins. Devon Travis sent a dribble up the third base line that Jose Ramirez attempted to field bare-handed and missed. Travis reached safely, Barney scored easily, and Goins alertly rounded third and scored when he saw Ramirez overrun the ball. The big two-out oops gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.
Russell Martin made it a three-run advantage with a one-out homer in the third, his second homer in as many nights. Troy Tulowitzki doubled to right center, but was erased on a fielder’s choice at third for the second out of the inning. Melvin Upton Jr. blew the game open with the Jays’ second homer of the inning, a two-run shot to right-center, to make it 5-0 Canada.
Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez breezed through the lineup in order through the first three innings, registering four strikeouts. The second trip through, however, was far more difficult, beginning with a good at bat from Carlos Santana to work a walk after falling behind 1-2. Jason Kipnis reached safely on an error by Travis at second and a single to center from Francisco Lindor loaded the bases for Mike Napoli, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center to get Cleveland on the board. Mr. Clutch, Ramirez, drove in yet another runner in scoring position with a single to center to score Kipnis to make it 5-2. Lonnie Chisenhall worked a grueling ten-pitch at bat that culminated with a blast deep to right for a three-run homer to tie the game at five. The Indians would send nine men to the plate in the inning, leaving Abraham Almonte stranded at first.
Encarnacion wasted little time giving Toronto its lead back to lead off the fifth, sending a deep drive high up the bleachers in left for his 35th homer and 101st RBI of the season as the long ball plagued Tomlin for the third time on the night. He left after striking out Martin and walking Tulowitzki on four straight, but his bullpen stepped up with four and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball.
Sanchez left after four, unable to capture the win after blowing the five-run advantage. Joe Biagini (4-2, 1.97 ERA) retired six of the seven batters he faced in two innings of work, allowing a two-out double to Chisenhall in the sixth but escaping unharmed. Joaquin Benoit retired three straight and Jason Grilli negated a one-out single from Lindor in the eighth on a double play grounder from Napoli.
In the ninth, Roberto Osuna stepped to the mound and faced some of the heroes of Friday night, when he blew the save and the game on a pair of game-ending homers. Ramirez lined out to left, Chisenhall struck out, and Tyler Naquin, who ended the previous day’s walk-off, grounded to third to end the ball game. Osuna’s save was his 28th of the season.
TOMLIN TORTURED BY THE LONG BALL
A dangerous home run hitting team like Toronto is a bad opponent for a pitcher like Tomlin (11-7, 4.39), and the results showed it on Saturday. He lasted just four and one-third innings, giving up six runs on nine hits, including three home runs. He walked one and struck out five on the night and was lifted after 85 pitches.
“It was a tough night for him to pitch because he’s a fly ball pitcher,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “They’re a very good hitting team.”
The three home runs allowed by Tomlin increased his season total to 32, the most in all of baseball.
“It’s very disappointing,” Tomlin said. “Because the offense puts up a fight, they tie the game back up and make it a game. For me to go out there after that big inning and give up a home run to the first batter that inning, it erased that five-run inning, which stinks. But I have got to do a better job of limiting the damage the previous innings.”
Sanchez could not complete five innings on Saturday for Toronto, despite being granted an early 5-0 lead. He worked four complete on the night, giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He struck out each of the first three batters he faced and four total in three perfect innings to start, but he faced nine men in the fourth to spell an early end to his night.
NO RAIN IN SATURDAY’S FORECAST
Third baseman and reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson was absent from the Toronto lineup for a second consecutive night while dealing with a jammed thumb. Manager John Gibbons believed Donaldson would be available for the series finale on Sunday.
CHISENHALL PROVIDES THE POWER
Chisenhall was all or nothing for the Tribe on Saturday, delivering a double and a homer, but striking out twice. He drove in three of the club’s five RBI on the night and scored once. His lengthy ten-pitch at bat with Sanchez, which led to his eighth homer of the season, seemed to be a momentum changer at the time.
With his two hits on the night, Chisenhall pushed his season batting average to .298.
ARMSTRONG BACK TO COLUMBUS AGAIN
Reliever Shawn Armstrong was once again limited to a short stay in Cleveland, lasting a day before being optioned back to Triple-A Columbus to make room on the 25-man roster for Tomlin’s return.
The Indians announced well prior to the game that Saturday’s game was a sellout. The crowd was announced at 33,604 and was again well represented by fans coming down from north of the border in support of their Blue Jays.
The 70 wins for the Indians at the 120-game mark was the most by the club since 1999, when the team was 73-47.
It will be a big matchup on Sunday as both clubs look to claim both the weekend series and the season series in what should be another playoff-caliber contest.
Corey Kluber (13-8, 3.15) will look to play the stopper again and right the wrongs of a bad outing his last time out against the Blue Jays in Toronto, when he allowed five runs in just three and one-third innings on the mound. The Jays will send out right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-5, 4.63), who limited the Indians to a run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts on July 1. He took the no-decision despite six and two-thirds innings of quality baseball in that start and is coming off of a quality effort his last time out against Houston.
The series finale is scheduled for a 1:10 PM ET start from Progressive Field.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images