Solarte’s Slam in 11th Spoils Crazy Game One for Tribe; Blue Jays 13, Indians 11

There have been games during the Indians’ current eleven-game homestand that they had no business winning and game one of Thursday’s doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays was one of them. Despite rallying back several times, Cleveland ended on the losing side of a 13-11 final to Toronto on a grand slam by Yangervis Solarte in the top of the eleventh.

On what was scheduled to be a busy day at Progressive Field for the Indians and Blue Jays Thursday, the long day was prolonged by a nearly two-hour long rain delay before the day’s festivities finally got under way. Instead of sticking to the script and playing a traditional nine-inning affair before jumping into game two, the two clubs decided that four hours and 47 minutes would be needed to determine a winner.

One of the last available arms in the bullpen, Tyler Olson, came on to pitch the eleventh. He struck out the first batter and got a groundout of the second, but Luke Maile drew a pinch-hit walk. Josh Donaldson doubled him to third and Teoscar Hernandez walked to load the bases for Solarte, who recorded his fifth hit of the game with a grand slam to left, breaking the game open again at 13-9.

Solarte – Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Indians did not go down without a fight. Against tough closer Roberto Osuna, they put together another rally. Jose Ramirez was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to third on a double to right-center by Michael Brantley. Both runners came home on a single to center by Edwin Encarnacion that cut the score to 13-11. Yonder Alonso pinch-hit for Yan Gomes, but struck out swinging, and Jason Kipnis lined out sharply to center for the final out.

The Blue Jays (18-13) claimed the series win over the Indians, paired with their win on Friday, April 13. They are now 9-6 on the road and have won all four of their extra inning contests this season. The Indians (16-14) are now 10-8 at home and 0-4 in extra inning games.

The two teams combined to score 24 runs on 32 hits with two errors in eleven full innings on the day. Both teams stranded plenty, with the Jays leaving 13 while the Indians left eight, and both teams put up with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-13 each. A total of 15 pitchers (eight for Toronto, seven for Cleveland) were used in the game and the two teams combined to throw 439 pitches.

Carlos Carrasco and Jaime Garcia took the mound for their respective clubs, with Carrasco quickly digging a giant hole. Garcia would join him several innings later with a similar poor effort.

Carrasco, making his first start since a rough outing and a back injury led to a short appearance last week, breezed through the first inning with a pair of strikeouts, but the Jays sent eight men to the plate in the second to take the lead. Solarte began a five-hit game in his first at bat, singling to left to start the frame. After a strikeout of Kevin Pillar, Carrasco gave up a two-run home run to catcher Russell Martin, putting the Jays in front 2-0. The Jays would load the bases with two outs, getting a single from Steve Pearce and a double from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before Curtis Granderson walked, but in his second at bat off of the disabled list, Donaldson grounded out to leave three men stranded.

The Jays would strand a pair in the third. Solarte doubled with one out and Pillar followed with a walk. A fly out to center by Martin moved Solarte to third (but caused a delay in the game as Solarte face-planted on a bad head first slide). Kendrys Morales struck out swinging as the Jays left their fourth and fifth men on base.

The Indians had a chance against Garcia in the third, but similarly could not push a run across. Erik Gonzalez singled to center with one down and reached on an infield single by Francisco Lindor. Rajai Davis grounded into a force at second and would steal second himself, but Ramirez popped out to first to strand a pair in scoring position.

The Jays broke the game open, or so it seemed, in the fourth. Gurriel singled with one down off of Carrasco and Granderson walked. Donaldson doubled to left, scoring Gurriel to make it a 3-0 game. Hernandez grounded to short, holding the two men in scoring position, but Solarte continued his big day with a two-run single to right to make it a 5-0 Toronto lead.

The Tribe turned the tide in the bottom of the fourth with their biggest inning of the season. Brantley and Encarnacion started the inning with singles to right. A fly out to center by Gomes moved Brantley to third and he scored on a double by Brandon Guyer to put the Indians on the board. Bradley Zimmer drove in two more with a single to center to cut the deficit to 5-3. Zimmer stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch strikeout by Gonzalez, who reached first safely. The blunder would prove costly as Lindor drove a two-seamer the opposite way to right for a three-run home run to put Cleveland on top, 6-5. John Gibbons had seen enough and brought on Danny Barnes, but he struggled to keep the Indians off of the bases. Rajai Davis singled off of him, but was caught stealing second for the second out. Ramirez walked and stole second and Brantley walked to put two on for Encarnacion, who drove in the seventh run of the inning with a single to left. Former Tribe pitcher John Axford stopped the bleeding, getting Gomes to ground out to second to leave runners on the corners.

Both teams put up quiet efforts in the fifth. Carrasco returned to the rubber in the sixth, leaving after he struck out Gurriel but gave up a single to Granderson. Nick Goody came in for manager Terry Francona, but his very first offering to Donaldson was driven to the bleachers for a game-tying two-run home run.

Goody got the next two batters, but he left in the top of the seventh after giving up a leadoff single to Pillar and clutching at his pitching arm. Zach McAllister relieved, getting a pair of outs before walking Aledmys Diaz two put two on. Gurriel slashed a single to left, scoring Pillar with the go-ahead run before Diaz was thrown out at third.

Cleveland threatened again in the seventh, getting the first two batters on via a double by Brantley and a walk by Encarnacion. Tyler Clippard retired the next three in order, striking out Gomes, getting pinch-hitter Kipnis to fly to left, and striking out Zimmer looking after both runners had moved up on a wild pitch.

The Jays added another off of McAllister in the eighth to extend their lead. The right-hander struck out the first two batters before Hernandez doubled and Solarte walked. Hernandez stole third, which did not matter as Pillar doubled him home easily to make it a 9-7 game before newly called up Ben Taylor struck out Martin swinging to strand two more on base.

Lindor – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Coming down to their final outs, the Indians rallied again in the eighth. With Ryan Tepera on the mound and one out, Lindor launched another deep blast, estimated at 445 feet, to center field to make it a 9-8 game. Davis reached with a single to right-center, but was picked off of first base on first movement. Ramirez drew a walk before Brantley sent a bullet towards first baseman Solarte, who missed the liner. The ball bounced around the outfield and the speedy Ramirez motored home all the way from first with the tying run before Brantley was tagged out in a run down between second and third.

Toronto tried to take the lead in the ninth and tenth, leaving two runners on each inning. The Indians went down in order in the ninth to send the game to extras, but had no luck in the tenth either.

The two teams wore number 42 jerseys in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which was one of the two rained out games in April for the two clubs.

Carrasco left in line for the win in the sixth despite a sloppy afternoon. He worked five and one-third innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. He needed 113 pitches to record his 16 outs. The most important thing that he did was survive the early scoring onslaught by the Jays to save the bullpen, as Francona would have to go to six different arms in the extra inning contest to work a combined five and two-thirds innings.

Garcia took a no-decision but it should have never come to that when staked to a five-run lead. He was unable to get out of the fourth inning, working three and one-third innings while allowing six runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts. His bullpen combined for eight and two-thirds innings behind him, but allowed five more runs along the way.

Goody and Tepera were each hit with blown saves, while Clippard got his fourth hold. Olson took the loss for the grand slam in the eleventh, while Tim Mayza got the win for his scoreless inning of work in the tenth.

Solarte’s five-hit day was a key for the Jays as he scored twice and drove in six runs. He actually reached in six of his seven total plate appearances after also working a walk. Gurriel had three hits from the nine-hole and Granderson reached four times with a hit and three walks. Donaldson had three hits, three runs, and three RBI in his return to the lineup. Prior to the game, he was activated by the Jays from the 10-day disabled list. He landed on the shelf when the Jays were in Cleveland for their first trip while dealing with right shoulder fatigue. Justin Smoak was placed on the paternity list in a corresponding roster move.

The Indians had three players record three hits and they all led to a chunk of the offensive production. Lindor was 3-for-6 with a single, two homers, two runs scored, and four RBI. Encarnacion was 3-for-5 with three singles and a walk, a run scored, and three driven in. Brantley was 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored. Ramirez went 0-for-3, but he scored three runs after walking twice.

Game two will take place approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. The Indians will bring up right-hander Adam Plutko, who will make his third big league appearance and his first Major League start. He is coming off of a perfect effort his last time out for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers against the Indianapolis Indians, throwing seven and two-thirds perfect innings before his bullpen coughed up a hit. Joe Biagini will make his second spot start of the year for Toronto and will similarly be called up from Triple-A Buffalo as the 26th man for the day.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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