Blue Jays-Indians Preview

The Cleveland Indians have owned at least a share of first place

for 88 of the last 94 days. To help stay on top of the AL Central

at the All-Star break, they would probably be best advised to pitch

carefully to Jose Bautista on Sunday.

Bautista has homered three times in the first three games of

this series for the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the finale at

Progressive Field.

Cleveland (47-41) maintained a one-half game lead over

second-place Detroit on Saturday, although both teams lost. The

Indians fell 5-4 in 10 innings because of Bautista’s heroics.

The Blue Jays slugger went deep twice, including a leadoff shot

in the 10th that proved to be the game-winner. All three hits in

his 11 at-bats in this series have been solo homers.

Bautista’s major league-leading 31 homers are the most by a Blue

Jay before the All-Star break. He’s the quickest in Toronto history

to reach 100, doing so in 377 games.

“That’s why he’s our best player,” manager John Farrell said.

“He comes through in moments like that, not just when you’re down

three or four or up three or four.”

Cleveland has walked Bautista four times in this series,

increasing his major league-leading total to 74.

“Right now he is reminding me of the way Barry Bonds was when he

was in his prime,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “When you make

a mistake, he will not foul it off. He just hits it out. He will

not even hit it off the wall. He just hits it out.”

Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 3.95 ERA) will be tasked with trying to

stop the All-Star slugger Sunday in his first appearance against


The right-hander went 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA in five starts before

he gave up six runs over four innings in Tuesday’s 9-2 home loss to

the Yankees.

Carrasco has given up five homers over his last three outings

after allowing four over his first 13.

Toronto (44-47) will counter with Brett Cecil (1-4, 6.37), who

is trying to avoid dropping four straight starts for the first

time. He pitched a six-hitter for his first career complete game in

Tuesday’s 3-2 loss at Boston.

That outing was an encouraging sign after Cecil entered it with

a 7.24 ERA.

“He pitched a very good ballgame,” Farrell said. “He did his

job. It was very encouraging to see him continue to make


Cecil has been excellent in four starts against the Indians,

going 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA.

All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is 4 for 13 against Cecil.

Cabrera is 9 for 26 with six RBIs against Toronto this season.

Michael Brantley went 0 for 5 on Saturday after going 12 for 22

in the first five meetings with the Blue Jays.

Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion was 0 for 4 after he went 7 for 10

with four runs scored in the first two games of this series.

The Blue Jays have been at their best against the AL Central,

going 15-11.