Indians seek series victory versus Blue Jays
The Indians, who have a big lead in the American League Central, have a chance to escape the Rogers Centre with a series win Sunday afternoon. It has not been easy.
Despite being outhit 18-11 on Saturday, the Indians were able to squeeze out a 9-8 victory over the Blue Jays, who almost came back from an 8-3 disadvantage after Cleveland’s seven-run fifth inning.
Cleveland has won two of the first three in the four-game series. The season series stands 3-3.
The Indians had a big inning from catcher Roberto Perez, who led off the fifth with his second homer of the season and finished the scoring in the inning with a three-run run double.
The Blue Jays had two homers from Randal Grichuk, but their pitchers gave up nine walks.
The Indians will start right-hander Mike Clevinger (11-7, 3.11 ERA) in the series finale and the Blue Jays will send out left-hander Thomas Pannone (1-1, 4.58).
Clevinger helped the Indians end a three-game losing streak and posted his 11th win of the season while holding the Kansas City Royals to one run in six innings in a 10-strikeout outing Tuesday He allowed four runs and three hits in four innings of a no-decision outing against the Blue Jays on April 13.
Clevinger has gone 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. He is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two career games (one start) against Toronto.
Pannone will make his third career major league start because Marcus Stroman is out with a blister on his right middle finger.
Pannone’s first two starts were against the Baltimore Orioles with contrasting results. He pitched a one-hitter in seven innings to pick up the win on Aug. 22 in Toronto, but in Baltimore six days later, he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings to take the loss. He has made six major league relief appearances.
He was acquired in a trade July 31, 2017, that sent reliever Joe Smith to the Indians.
Kevin Pillar, who doubled twice Saturday after hitting an 11th inning walkoff homer Friday, is the player with most seniority on a team that is looking to the future with an abundance of September callups.
“It’s definite energy and I think it’s a reminder, too,” said Pillar, who has six years with the Blue Jays. “I was in their shoes, too. I was a young kid, trying to prove myself. I think it’s just kind of a friendly reminder that they’re here to take your job and you have to go out and perform every single day, even when it feels like we’re not playing for anything. You have to remember it’s our job to go out and perform, continue to work and prove yourself every day.”
Rowdy Tellez already has become a crowd favorite only four games into his big-league career. He hit his first career homer Saturday and added a single. His first six hits were doubles.
He is the first player since 1913 with seven extra-base hits in his first four career games. He is the fourth player in the live ball era to have each of his first seven hits go for extra bases.
Based on the game Saturday, Cleveland’s bullpen needs help. It could be coming, Andrew Miller (left shoulder impingement) threw 33 pitches off the bullpen mound Saturday afternoon and tried simulating a game setting. The 33-year-old threw a bullpen session Thursday. He has on the disabled list since Aug. 29 and was eligible to be activated Saturday.
“I think the next step is to get used in a game and handle that adrenaline again,” Miller said. “I don’t know exactly what we’ll do. It hasn’t been that much time. I think I’d like to get into some games, I’d love to pitch here (in Toronto).”
The Indians had left fielder Michael Brantley back in the lineup Saturday and he produced a two-run homer, a single and two walks. He has six career homers against the Blue Jays.
He grounded out as a pinch hitter Friday in his only appearance of the first two games of the series because of a bruised left foot. He had fouled a ball off the foot Wednesday.