Toronto Tough on Tribe, Take Two out of Three
The Cleveland Indians started the second half strong on Friday night with a victory over the last-place Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, Saturday and Sunday didn’t go quite as well for the Tribe as they dropped both games and put themselves in position to drop into third place in the AL Central. On Saturday, Ubaldo Jimenez was rocked for a career-high eight runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work en route to his eighth loss of the season as the Blue Jays beat the Indians 11-9. The Jays were up 10-2 at one point, but The Tribe rallied scoring 2 runs in the top of the 4 th and 5 in the top of the 8 th to make it close. In the end, Blue Jays’ closer Casey Janssen would halt the Indians’ rally with some help from an incredible diving catch by Jose Bautista to end the 8 th inning and the Jays held on for the victory.
The outing for Jimenez was his worst in seven starts, and once again had fans questioning the decision to bring him in at the trade deadline last season. Jimenez now leads the American League with 62 walks issued and he has given up 16 homers on the season, including a pair of two-run shots to Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar in the first inning. In all, Jimenez (8-8, 5.09) allowed eight runs on seven hits, all of which were earned, walked four and struck out just two batters in his shortest outing this season. The Indians bullpen managed to keep the Blue Jays relatively in check, combining to allow three runs on six hits with two walks and three punch outs over the remaining 5 2/3 innings of the game.
On Sunday, Derek Lowe started the game strong for the Indians, retiring the first six Blue Jays that he faced. Unfortunately, Toronto got to the veteran right-hander and put up a three spot in the bottom of the third inning. It would be all they would need as the Blue Jays went on to defeat the Indians 3-0, taking the series and sending the Indians off to Tampa once again wondering what to make of their unpredictable offense.
Carlos Villanueva held the Indians scoreless in his six innings of work, and the Blue Jays bullpen kept the team in check upon his departure. The Indians only real threat came in the sixth inning as Villanueva issued back-to-back, two-out walks. Casey Kotchman stepped up to the plate hoping to drive in at least one of those base runners, but Villanueva struck him out to end the threat and end his work for the day.
The loss on Sunday drops the Indians to 45-43 on the season and puts their hold on second place in the Central Division in jeopardy. They will head to Tampa to play the Rays for the next four days before returning home on Friday where they will face the surprising Baltimore Orioles followed by the surging Detroit Tigers. The Indians will likely welcome reliever Rafael Perez back during that home stand as he has begun a rehab stint with the Double-A Akron Aeros club. With the four-game series ahead in Tampa, the Indians will have played in seven straight games on artificial turf. Indians manager Manny Acta has had to shuffle his line-up around a bit to accommodate the fact that most of his players are not used to playing on artificial turf and are thus a bit more prone to injury with such prolonged exposure to the unfamiliar surface.
By Robert Gonzalez