Starting pitchers from Cleveland and Toronto were each knocked out in the third inning but the Blue Jays pecked away gradually against the Indians bullpen, delivering the final blow with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on a bases loaded single to right to walk off with an 8-7 victory to claim the win and the series on Wednesday night from Rogers Centre.
The disappointing results for the Indians sent them home to Cleveland with an 18-15 record on the season. Their weather-shortened ten-game road trip through Detroit, Kansas City, and Toronto ended with a 4-5 record as a newly revived offense could not outslug the Jays.
After evening the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the fourth, the early offensive outbursts from both clubs came to a halt until the ninth as the Indians brought on Cody Allen to try to send the game to extra innings. Instead, it was another shaky outing from the Tribe closer in May and this time, he could not survive the high wire act as the Jays pulled out the win.
After the Indians were set down in order by Roberto Osuna in the top of the frame, former Cleveland outfielder Ezequiel Carrera singled to center with one out to get the Jays rally going in the bottom of the ninth. Allen struck out Jose Bautista, but things took a drastic turn for the worse after the second out was retired. The Tribe closer got ahead of Justin Smoak with two quick strikes before firing four straight to put the slugger on. Steve Pearce stepped in and took two more balls from Allen before fouling off a pair. With the count back to even, Allen lost the zone again and threw two more balls to load the bases. Needing an out to send the game to extras, Allen’s first pitch fastball was instead slapped into right field by Ryan Goins for the game-winning single, ending a frustrating night for the Cleveland roster as Toronto improved to 13-21 on the year.
Liriano had entered with strong career numbers against members of the current Indians lineup, but Wednesday proved to defy the norm. Carlos Santana walked to start the game and Francisco Lindor singled before Jason Kipnis put the Indians on the board with a two-run double to the right field corner to give the Tribe an early lead.
While Cleveland needed just three batters to get on the board with a pair of runs, Toronto would do them one better in the home half of the first. The Blue Jays started just as the Indians had, with Kevin Pillar walking to start the inning before a single by Carrera. But unlike Kipnis’ double, Bautista delivered a bigger blow on a 3-2 pitch, homering to left to put Toronto on top, 3-2.
Both sides failed to score in the second, with the Blue Jays stranding a leadoff double from Devon Travis. But in the third, the Indians struck again and took what appeared to be a big lead at the time.
Santana walked to lead off for the second time on the night. Lindor singled with his second base knock in as many at bats. In a case of déjà vu, Kipnis drove home another run with a single to right-center, tying the game at three. A walk by Edwin Encarnacion loaded the bases before Jose Ramirez broke through with a big single to right as the Tribe played station to station ball and took a 4-3 lead. Manager John Gibbons had seen enough and went to the bullpen, calling upon Dominic Leone. A new pitcher did not lead to better results, however, as Brandon Guyer sent a bases clearing double to right before being thrown out trying to stretch his hit to three bases for the first out. Yan Gomes followed with a double, the seventh straight Indian to reach base safely to start the inning, before Leone retired Yandy Diaz and Michael Martinez, who had entered the previous half inning as an injury replacement for Abraham Almonte after he hurt his shoulder at the plate.
With a four-run lead in the bottom of the third, Salazar was staked to some wiggle room, but he did not have it on Wednesday. Carrera grounded to short before the Tribe right-hander walked Bautista on four straight. Smoak fouled off a couple before doubling to right. Pearce drove one in on a sacrifice fly to right and Goins singled to center, driving in Toronto’s fifth run of the game and ending Salazar’s night.
With Dan Otero still on the mound in the fourth, the Jays got a big two-out hit from an unlikely source to tie the game at two. Darwin Barney jumped on the first pitch of the inning and doubled to center. A pair of groundouts would move Barney to third with two outs before Carrera pulled a 1-0 offering from Otero over the wall in right for a two-run home run to tie the game at 7-7.
Both teams put runners on base in each inning the rest of the night until the top of the ninth, when Osuna set the Tribe down in order to finish off seven innings of scoreless relief from the Toronto ‘pen. Liriano was charged with seven runs on five hits with three walks in two-plus innings of work. Salazar was hit with five runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in just two and two-thirds. The usually reliable Indians bullpen allowed three runs of its own on the night, including two by Otero and the single run in the ninth off of Allen.
Goins and Carrera were the heroes for the Blue Jays on the night as both had three hits and a pair of RBI in the ball game. The Indians were led at the plate with two-hit games from Lindor, Kipnis, Guyer, and Martinez, with both Kipnis and Guyer driving in three runs each.
Almonte left in the second with what was described as a right shoulder injury for Cleveland. Gomes also left in the third while dealing with a stomach illness that had been bothering him before the game.
With their road trip out of the way, the Indians will come home for a short homestand to host their first home games of the month, but before play resumes from Progressive Field, they will take a day off Thursday. The Minnesota Twins will come to town for three games beginning Friday before the Tampa Bay Rays come to visit for three beginning Monday night.
Josh Tomlin (2-3, 7.12 ERA) will start the series opener for the Tribe in the 7:10 PM ET first pitch Friday.
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