Gomes’ errors prove costly for Indians in loss to Blue Jays

Santana broke out of a 1 for 30 slump with a two-run homer to right in the sixth.

Ken Blaze/Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — The Indians have the worst fielding percentage in the American League. Their lone error on Friday night loomed large.

With the game tied at two in the seventh and one out, Yan Gomes’ throwing error on a pickoff attempt moved runners to second and third. After Jose Bautista was walked to load the bases, Edwin Encarnacion singled home the go-ahead run as the Blue Jays held on for a 3-2 win at Progressive Field. The Indians have dropped six of their last eight and are 7-9.

Gomes errors have been especially troubling. After having three errors in 85 games at catcher last season, he has five in the 13 games he has been behind the plate this year.

In the seventh, Gomes called a pickoff move on Munenori Kawasaki at first. Had Gomes made a good throw, Kawasaki would have been out, but it was low and skipped in front of Nick Swisher, allowing Kawasaki to move to second and Melky Cabrera to advance to third. Cabrera, who was 4 for 4, ended up scoring the winning run.

"That’s a tough one to swallow but I have to learn from it. I pick him off and it’s a different situation," Gomes said.

While you cannot fault Gomes aggressiveness, it has been costly. Two of the errors have been trying to get runners stealing second, one was on a bunt attempt where he tried to get the runner at second and start a double play, one was when he mishandled a foul ball and then the pickoff move.

After Friday’s gaffe, Gomes did admit that that having errors in back-to-back games for the second time this season is a concern.

"It’s natural to and now it is becoming a learning experience. I just have to keep that aggressiveness and not let it get away from me," Gomes said. "I have to get my release point right and hopefully get the ball to guys."

The Indians have committed five errors the past three games and lead the AL in errors with 16.

Even with the error, the Tribe had a chance to either win it or send it into extra innings in the ninth. They had the bases loaded with two outs but Michael Brantley hit a sharp grounder to Encarnacion at first to end the game. Earlier in the inning, Lonnie Chisenhall led it off with a double but Michael Bourn wasn’t able to get a bunt down and struck out while Nick Swisher was caught looking. Jason Kipnis and Santana got aboard with walks. The Indians, who left 12 runners on base, were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

"We put ourselves in a tough spot and it’s tough to win those games," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Mark Rzepczynski gave up hits to the only two batters he faced and took the loss while the normally reliable Cody Allen gave up the go-ahead single. After struggling in his past two starts, Justin Masterson was solid for 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine. He also allowed six hits and two runs while walking two.

Cabrera gets 4 hits, Blue Jays edge Indians 3-2

Of the six hits he allowed, three were to Cabrera, who now is 15 for 27 against Masterson. With Cabrera coming up in the sixth with one out, Francona decided to go with the lefty Rzepczynski for the more favorable matchup. It didn’t help as Cabrera singled and had his first four-hit game since 2011.

Said Masterson of the Indians start: "Right now it just seems like we are little rusty and working out some kinks. Everything will come together as we go. We were really streaky last year and wanted to even things out. I think we will."

The loss also diminished what was a good night for second through fourth hitters in the lineup as Swisher, Kipnis and Santana combined for six of the Tribe’s 10 hits.

Swisher, who came into the game batting .164 and was 3 for 23 on the recent six-game road trip, had his fourth two-hit game of the season. His first inning single to left broke a run of 12 at-bats without a hit.

Kipnis, who was 5 for 21 on the road trip, had his first three-hit game of the season.

Santana broke out of a 1 for 30 slump with a two-run homer to right in the sixth to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. It was his first home run of the year and first RBI since the second game of the year in Oakland. However, he was also 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.

"When we get a runner on third and less than two outs, those are the ones we probably need to do better," Francona said. "We’re going to get hits. Two-out hits are great but we’ve left some runners on third that have been costly."