The Indians could not protect an early 4-0 lead as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied with four runs in the fourth inning off of starter Mike Clevinger and tacked on four more runs late against the Cleveland bullpen to claim an 8-4 win in the series opener on Friday from Progressive Field.
After a quick and uneventful first inning by Clevinger, the Indians took the lead against Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman in the bottom half of the frame. Francisco Lindor singled to right-center and moved to second on a grounder by Jason Kipnis. A walk by Jose Ramirez put two on for cleanup man Yonder Alonso, who drove in Lindor with a single. After a strikeout by Edwin Encarnacion for the second out, Tyler Naquin singled to center to drive in Ramirez from third to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Yan Gomes stranded a pair on the corners with a strikeout swinging to end the inning.
Clevinger worked around a two-out double by Kevin Pillar before the offense doubled his lead in their second trips to the plate. Rajai Davis reached on an infield dribbler to third and picked off second, giving himself a significant gash above his left eye on his head first steal attempt. The theft would come up big as Lindor doubled him in with a shot to right. Kipnis followed with a ground rule double to center to score Lindor to put the Indians up, 4-0.
Clevinger retired the side in order in the third, but the Indians could not score in the home half despite a two-out walk by Gomes and a single to right by Bradley Zimmer. Davis grounded into a force to end the inning, getting Stroman off of the hook.
The Jays came through with a big inning against Clevinger in the fourth as the right-hander lost his command and the walks would prove costly. With one out, Clevinger issued back-to-back free passes to Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte. He quickly fell behind Russell Martin before getting him to fly to deep right for the second out, but Pillar came through with an RBI-single to left to score Smoak to put Toronto on the board. Aledmys Diaz got into a big battle with Clevinger and walked away the winner, drilling a three-run home run, his third of the season, over the wall in center to tie the game at four.
The Indians offense could not find the scoreboard again against Stroman or the Blue Jays bullpen the rest of the way despite a few scoring opportunities. Cleveland wasted a pair of one-out singles by Encarnacion and Naquin in the fifth. Lindor reached with a one-out double in the sixth against reliever Danny Barnes, but he was thrown out at the plate as he attempted to score from second on a two-out grounder by Ramirez that was knocked down by the second baseman Travis before he threw a strike to Martin at the plate. It would be the last best chance for the Tribe, as the Jays took the lead in the next half inning and added on later.
Randal Grichuk drew a leadoff walk off of Zach McAllister and stole second to start the seventh. He moved to third on a groundout by Travis before manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for Andrew Miller. The All-Star left-hander got a big grounder to first by pinch-hitter Steve Pearce, as Alonso cut down the runner Grichuk at the plate for the second out. A passed ball by Gomes allowed Pearce to move to second and Teoscar Hernandez, fresh up from the minors, delivered with a go-ahead double to left after what appeared to be a missed strike three call, giving Toronto a 5-4 lead.
The Blue Jays erased all doubt in the ninth against Matt Belisle, on for a second inning of relief. Diaz singled to right to start the inning and stole second after a strikeout by Grichuk. Travis was plunked by a pitch to put two on for Pearce, who doubled both runners home with a drive to the left field corner. Hernandez followed with his second RBI-double of the night to make it an 8-4 game.
In the non-save situation, Roberto Osuna came on and retired the top of the Indians’ lineup in order in the bottom of the ninth, striking out Lindor and Ramirez around a groundout by Kipnis.
The Indians’ (8-6) five-game winning streak came to an end with their second loss of the year at home.
The Blue Jays (9-5) improved to 5-2 on the road on the season and currently sit two games behind Boston in second place in the American League East.
STROMAN SETTLES IN AFTER ROUGH START
Stroman looked like he was going to struggle to last deep in the contest, but he was able to settle down on the mound and gave the Jays some length. He did not factor in the decision, but he made it through five innings of work, allowing the four runs in the first two innings on nine hits total. He walked two and struck out five, throwing 99 pitches on the night.
CLEVINGER LOSES COMMAND
Clevinger was cruising along through the first three innings before he ran into a buzz saw in the fourth. After needing just 43 pitches to get through the first nine outs, he needed a total of 39 pitches just to clear the fourth inning and by the time that he did, the damage was already done. The two free base runners issued would come in to score during the inning and he would not return for the fifth, having already thrown 82 pitches in the ball game (and just 48 for strikes).
He worked four full innings, allowing four runs on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He was able early on to work ahead of hitters, but that changed over the course of the night. He also struggled to miss bats, getting just eight swinging strikes out of the 48 such pitches thrown.
For the Indians, Lindor was the offensive star of the night, totaling three hits in the game in five trips to the plate. He singled and had a pair of doubles, scored twice, and drove in a run as he continues to look more comfortable in the batter’s box. Naquin added a two-hit game and every Indians hitter had at least one hit on the night as the team tallied 12 hits in total, their third straight double-digit hit game.
Toronto was aided by big hits from Diaz, Pillar, Hernandez, and Pearce. Diaz delivered the game-tying three-run homer in the fourth, had two hits on the night, and scored a pair of runs. Pillar had a single and a double, drove in one, and scored another. Hernandez had a pair of RBI-doubles to his credit in five trips, and Pearce scored twice and drove in two more in his two at bats off of the bench.
DL FOR DONALDSON
Prior to the game, the Blue Jays placed third baseman Josh Donaldson on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The injury has hindered his ability to play in the field since the season began and Toronto instead opted to shut him down and sent him to their minor league complex in Florida to get in work both rehabbing and working on a throwing program.
Hernandez, who stepped up big for the Blue Jays on Friday, was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to assume his spot on the roster.
Here are the long awaited answers to this morning’s Tribe Trivia!
The Indians received Yan Gomes from the Blue Jays in November of 2012. Name the pitcher traded by Cleveland to acquire him.
– The Indians acquired Gomes, plus utility man Mike Aviles, from the Blue Jays for pitcher Esmil Rogers.
Cleveland dealt starting pitcher Tom Candiotti to Toronto in June of 1991. Who were the three players acquired by the Tribe in the deal?
– The Indians attempted to bolster their outfield depth with the trade, acquiring outfielders Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten, plus pitcher Denis Boucher and cash, for Candiotti.
Len Barker threw the last no-hitter and perfect game in Indians history on May 15, 1981. This player, who would be instrumental in the 27th out of the game for Barker, recorded the first hit and run of the day for the Indians to help pace Barker to the historic day.
– Current Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio Indians’ cohost Rick Manning recorded the first hit of the game, a single in the first inning, and later came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Andre Thornton to put the Indians on top, 1-0.
Less than two weeks before Barker’s perfect game, his fellow rotation mate took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the same Jays team at Exhibition Stadium. He lost it on a leadoff double by Lloyd Moseby. Which legendary pitcher was he?
– Future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven earned his third win of the season but lost his no-hitter and shutout in the ninth inning against the Blue Jays with their late offensive awakening. Blyleven would allow just two hits in the commplete game win.
The Indians and Jays will pick up their series on Saturday with a 4:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field.
Corey Kluber (1-1, 1.57 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season and looks to continue an impressive beginning to his 2018 season. He worked eight innings in his last outing, earning his first win of the season with a scoreless two-hit effort against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night. Kluber has struck out 27 batters in 23 innings on the season and the four runs that he has allowed on the year have come courtesy of a pair of two-run home runs.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-0, 3.18) will counter for the Blue Jays. The 31-year-old went 0-2 against the Indians last season in his first career games against Cleveland, allowing eight runs (six earned) on eleven hits with seven walks and nine strikeouts in just nine and two-thirds innings of work.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images