Blue Jays experiment with call-ups against Indians
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have been playing several of their September call-ups while the Cleveland Indians try to close in on their inevitable clinching of a division title in the American League Central.
The teams have split the first two games of a four-game series at the Rogers Centre after the Blue Jays won in 11 innings Friday night on the second walk-off home run of Kevin Pillar’s career.
The Blue Jays (64-77) will continue to run out players recently called up from the minors when right-hander Sean Reid-Foley (1-2, 5.51 ERA) makes his fourth career major-league start on Saturday.
The Indians (80-61) will start right-hander Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.04), who will be making his 14th appearance (11th start) of the season Saturday.
In Plutko’s Monday start against the Kansas City Royals, he took the loss after allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings despite a career-best eight strikeouts.
The 26-year-old will be making his second career start against Toronto. He made his first career major-league start on May 3 against the Blue Jays in the second game of a doubleheader. He allowed six hits and three runs while striking out six in 7 1/3 innings for his first major-league win.
Reid-Foley had 10 strikeouts Sunday in his first major-league win at Miami. He held the Marlins to one run, four hits and one walk in seven innings of Toronto’s 6-1 victory.
He made his major-league debut on Aug. 13 but was returned to Triple-A Buffalo after his second big-league start.
“He was fantastic,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the start on Sunday. “He was popping the ball. That’s the best we’ve seen it.
“I think those first two starts and then he went back down, I think he had a lot of confidence coming into today.”
One of the call-ups who has become a big fan favorite is first baseman Rowdy Tellez, who had two more doubles Friday and an RBI. He has six doubles since making his big-league debut Tuesday.
Tellez is the first player since 1913 to hit six doubles in his first three major-league games and tied the record of six extra-base hits in his first three games set in 2008 by Chris Dickerson.
“He’s the new cult hero in town,” Gibbons said.
In delivering their eighth walk-off win of the season on Friday, the Blue Jays overcame a strong pitching performance by Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who matched his season high with 14 strikeouts.
The Blue Jays struck out 20 times in all, but it did not stop them from improving to 10-6 in extra-inning games and 20-12 in games decided by one run this season.
Outfielder Michael Brantley, who missed the Indians’ 9-4 victory on Thursday, was used only as a pinch hitter Friday and grounded out in the 10th inning. He suffered a bruised left foot on a foul ball Wednesday in the 3-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.
With the Indians’ magic number to clinch the AL Central down to seven, they are going to be extra cautious with Brantley, who was out of the lineup Friday night against the Blue Jays.
“I’m probably being a little overprotective,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think it’s probably the prudent thing to do.”
The 31-year-old Brantley is hitting .303 with an .819 OPS and 14 home runs in 125 games this season.
The Indians’ clinching number in the AL Central remained at seven after the second-place Minnesota Twins beat the Royals 10-6 on Friday.