Too Much Edwin—Not Enough Offense; Blue Jays 4, Indians 2

While the Indians may have used up all of their offense on Wednesday night, Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion had plenty left in his tank for Thursday’s rubber match at the Rogers Centre.  The Blue Jays rode Encarnacion’s two homeruns and three RBI’s to a 4-2 victory over the Indians Thursday night.

Encarnacion did much of his damage off of Tribe starter Danny Salazar (1-4, 5.53), who brought his struggles north of the border and was hit with his fourth loss of the season.  In contrast, the Blue Jays rode the effective left arm of J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.57) to victory.

The Blue Jays took the lead first with a pair of solo homeruns in the bottom of the second.  First, Encarnacion led off the inning with his first homerun of the night to dead centerfield.  Two batters later, third baseman Juan Francisco followed suit with an opposite field blast off of Salazar for a 2-0 advantage.  For both sluggers, the homeruns marked their seventh round-trippers of the season.

Salazar continued to struggle through the next couple of innings but battled enough to not allow another run.  Although he allowed just the two runs, the young right hander saw his pitch count rise to 98 after allowing five hits and two walks in just four innings of work.  Because of his high number of pitches, Salazar was pulled when CC Lee was brought in for the bottom of the fifth.

By the time Lee took the mound, however, the Tribe offense had cut the lead in half.  A day after becoming the first Indian with five hits, five RBI and three extra base hits in a game since Victor Martinez in 2004, David Murphy golfed a Happ curveball over the right field wall for solo homerun to make the score 2-1.  The blast kept Murphy red-hot and was his third of the season, but Lee did not keep the score close for very long.

After giving up a Jose Bautista single to lead off the fifth inning, Lee allowed Encarnacion to get to him just as he did to Salazar.  With the count full, Encarnacion clubbed an inside fastball down the left field line for a two-run blast, his second of the night and eighth of the season to run Toronto’s lead to 4-1.  The homer was nearly Encarnacion’s third of the contest, as he had earlier doubled high off of the left field wall back in the third.  Lee was pulled for Josh Outman immediately following the homerun.

The Tribe offense continued to stay quiet even after Happ was pulled from the ballgame after the sixth.  Cleveland did not put another tally on the scoreboard again until the top of the eighth, when Yan Gomes singled to bring home Ryan Raburn with two outs to cut the lead to 4-2.  Raburn had reached to lead off the inning by smacking a ground-rule double to right field.  Toronto reliever Aaron Loup ended any threat of an Indian comeback by striking out Murphy to end the inning.  The Indians finished the game just 1-10 with runners in scoring position.

Scott Atchison, Marc Rzepczynski, John Axford and Cody Allen helped shut down the Blue Jays in the late innings, but Toronto closer Casey Janssen worked a scoreless ninth to slam the door on the Tribe in the ninth.  After spending much of the first part of the season on the disabled list, the 1-2-3 save was just Janssen’s second of the season.

With the loss, the Indians (19-22) fall into last place in the AL Central Division.  They will return home on Friday evening as they will take on Sonny Gray (4-1, 2.17) and the Oakland Athletics at 7:05 at Progressive Field.  The Tribe will counter with righty Zach McAllister (3-3, 3.89), who has lost his last three decisions.  The game against the A’s will mark the first of three straight series’ against the three current first place teams in the American League.  Fans in attendance on Friday will receive the benefits of a Sugardale Dollar Dog Night as well as being treated to a postgame fireworks display.  For those not at the ballpark, the game can be seen on Fox Sports/SportsTime Ohio and can be heard on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.

Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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