Nine-Run Fifth Gives Tribe Doubleheader Split with Jays; Indians 13, Blue Jays 4
Bob Toth | On 03, May 2018
The Cleveland Indians wrapped up a long day at Progressive Field on Thursday with an easy 13-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays to split the day’s doubleheader.
Just like the first game of the day, there was some back and forth in the early innings once again as the Indians (17-14) looked to avoid a home series sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays. After dropping game one of the doubleheader, the Indians were guaranteed a losing record on their eleven-game homestand, but they salvaged the day by breaking their own season-best effort set just a few hours earlier with a gigantic nine-run fifth.
A pair of minor leaguers got the call for the nightcap of the double dip as right-handers Adam Plutko and Joe Biagini were recalled from their Triple-A clubs to make spot starts. Plutko, making his third big league appearance and first MLB start, would get the better of the third-year man Biagini.
Plutko hit the ground strong, striking out a pair of batters in the first inning, but Biagini matched him with his own scoreless frame with a strikeout. But the pesky Yangervis Solarte, fresh off of a five-hit, six-RBI day in the opener, kicked off his effort in game two with a solo homer to right-center to lead off the second inning to put Toronto on top, 1-0.
The Indians got their first base runner of the day in the second when Michael Brantley started the inning with a single to right, but he would be stranded as Yonder Alonso flied out and Tyler Naquin and Roberto Perez each struck out looking. In the third, however, the Indians would tie the game up as Erik Gonzalez singled to left with one down, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Francisco Lindor. The Tribe’s All-Star shortstop would be stranded at third after a two-out single by Jose Ramirez, but a groundout by Brantley.
Toronto responded with another run in the fourth to reclaim the lead and followed the same scoring path as before. Josh Donaldson, in the box for his second at bat of the game, sent a high 2-1 fastball to left-center for a solo shot leading off the inning, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 edge. Solarte would double one out later, but moved no further as Plutko left him stranded.
The Indians followed up with a run for the second straight inning as they evened things up again against Biagini. With one down, Naquin doubled to left center and came on in to score on a single by Perez. The Indians would leave a pair in the inning, but the game was tied at two.
For the third time in five innings, the Blue Jays started an inning with an extra base hit as Dwight Smith Jr. began the inning with a double, but Plutko left him at third with his second strikeout of the inning, retiring Lourdes Gurriel Jr. swinging and setting the stage for a big inning for the Tribe.
Ten of the first eleven batters in the bottom of the fifth for Cleveland would reach base safely as the game was ripped open and put away. Jason Kipnis singled and scored on a two-run home run to right by Ramirez to give Cleveland its first lead at 4-2. Brantley lined out for the first out before back-to-back singles by Alonso and Naquin ended Biagini’s evening. Manager John Gibbons went to his bullpen for Luis Santos, just called up prior to the game from Triple-A Buffalo, but his command was an issue quickly. He walked Perez to load the bases and did the same with Zimmer, forcing in the fifth Indians run. Gonzalez recorded his second hit of the nightcap, a three-run double to center that cleared the bases and gave the Tribe an 8-2 lead. Lindor doubled him in with a drive to left, making it 9-2. Kipnis walked before a double by Ramirez, his second hit and third RBI of the inning. A sacrifice fly by Brantley scored Kipnis to make it 11-2 before Alonso was retired with the final out on a swinging strikeout.
The nine-run frame bested the Indians previous season-high, set during game one of the doubleheader, when the club rattled off seven in the fourth.
Plutko pitched a perfect sixth, striking out a pair, before the Indians added on with a run in a fourth straight inning. With two outs, Bradley Zimmer singled to center and came on in on the third hit of the game for Gonzalez, whose RBI-double gave him four driven in through six innings and the Indians a 12-2 lead.
Smith got to Plutko with a two-out double in the seventh, but Toronto was kept off of the scoreboard before the Indians added on to their portion for a fifth consecutive frame. With Carlos Ramirez on the mound for the Blue Jays, Kipnis grounded out before three straight walks to Ramirez, Brantley, and Alonso. Naquin struck out swinging for the second out, but a wild pitch by Ramirez allowed all the runners to move up 90 feet, extending the Indians lead to 13-2 before Perez grounded out to short.
Plutko made it back to the mound to start the eighth inning, giving up his third solo homer to lead off an inning as Aledmys Diaz cleared the playing field with a shot to the Home Run Porch. Plutko retired the next batter before handing the ball over to manager Terry Francona, who went to Evan Marshall, Plutko’s teammate from Columbus. He retired Donaldson swinging and Hernandez on a grounder to short.
Jeff Beliveau, the last of the relievers left unused on Thursday, made his appearance in the ninth and pitched himself into a mess against his former club. He allowed back-to-back singles to Solarte and Pillar before getting Kendrys Morales to fly out. With runners on the corners, Smith scored the fourth run of the game with a groundout to first. Luke Maile and Diaz both walked to load the bases, but Gurriel grounded out to short to end it, a 13-4 final.
The Jays dropped to 18-14 on the year with the loss. The win for Francona was the 1,500th of his Major League managerial career.
PLUTKO IMPRESSES IN DEBUT
Plutko gave the Indians everything that they needed in the ball game. He provided plenty of pitching length (seven and one-third innings) to save a heavily taxed bullpen from the first game of the day, and he gave a quality start, allowing three solo homers and six hits in total, but striking out six while working ahead early and often against the Blue Jays.
The strong spot start from Plutko earned him his first Major League win and likely a chance to help out again in the future when needed.
BIAGINI AND BULLPEN BEAT UP
The Blue Jays could not contain the Indians on Thursday as they allowed a combined 24 runs over the two contests, but did take home a win in the first game when they outscored Cleveland, 13-11.
The second game was less favorable to them, as Biagini lasted just four and one-third innings while allowing six runs on ten hits with a walk, two wild pitches, and four strikeouts. His Buffalo teammate, Santos, was roughed up, too, as he was charged with six runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts in just an inning and two-thirds. Ramirez allowed just one run on one hit, but he walked four along the way while striking out a pair.
BATS SHOW UP AGAIN
The Indians bats stepped up in a big way again in the nightcap, plating 13 runs on 16 hits while drawing eight walks.
Every Tribe starter recorded at least one hit in the game. Ramirez and Gonzalez each tallied three hits apiece, with Ramirez scoring twice and driving in three while serving as the team’s DH. His replacement at third, Gonzalez, scored twice and drove in four from the ninth spot in the lineup. Lindor, Kipnis, and Naquin each had two hits.
After going 5-for-13 in game one with runners in scoring position, the Indians followed it up with a 6-for-15 effort while leaving eleven men on base.
RECORD SETTING DAY FOR SOLARTE
Solarte, who had five hits in the first game of the doubleheader, completed his day with a three-hit performance while coming up just a triple short of the cycle. His eight hits set a new team record for hits in a doubleheader. He combined to go 8-for-10 with a pair of homers and seven runs batted in.
Both clubs had to shuffle around their rosters after injuries and heavy bullpen use in game one.
The Blue Jays placed Steve Pearce on the 10-day disabled list with an oblique strain, believed to have been suffered during one of his at bats during game one. Toronto recalled Biagini and selected the contract of Santos from Triple-A and optioned reliever Danny Barnes.
The Indians placed right-handed reliever Nick Goody on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation between the two games. Pitcher Danny Salazar was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list and the right-hander Marshall’s contract was purchased from Triple-A Columbus.
It’s time for Thursday’s doubleheader edition of Tribe Trivia’s answers to be revealed.
This former Indians corner infielder and All-Star during the 1986 and 1990 seasons has been employed as the hitting coach on current Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ staff in Toronto for the past four seasons.
Who am I? – Brook Jacoby
The Indians and Blue Jays are tied together in a unique piece of no-hit history. The first no-hitter thrown against the Blue Jays was done by this Indians pitcher, who notched his place in Cleveland history nearly four decades ago. His catcher for the game, Ron Hassey, would catch two perfect games during his Major League career.
The Toronto organization has thrown just one no-hitter in its history, and it happened at Cleveland Stadium against the Indians. Pat Borders, who played for both the Blue Jays and the Indians in his career, would be the catcher for this long-time Blue Jays starter.
TO THE TARMAC
Both clubs will be quickly jettisoning off to new locales after the game. The Blue Jays’ one-day layover in Cleveland will end with a flight to Tampa Bay, where they will take on the Rays for three straight beginning Friday night. The Indians will head to the east coast to take a bite out of the Big Apple with their own three-game series against the New York Yankees beginning Friday evening.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images