CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays muscled their way past the Indians with a 6-5 victory in the latest clash of two first-place teams. Toronto blasted a trio of home runs to top Cleveland in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night at Progressive Field.All three Toronto homers came off
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays muscled their way past the Indians with a 6-5 victory in the latest clash of two first-place teams. Toronto blasted a trio of home runs to top Cleveland in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night at Progressive Field.
All three Toronto homers came off Tribe righty Josh Tomlin, who was on the hook for the loss. Russell Martin and Melvin Upton Jr. each went yard off the right-hander in the third to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Edwin Encarnacion took Tomlin deep with a solo shot to left to break a 5-5 deadlock in the fifth. Tomlin lasted 4 1/3 frames, in which he allowed six runs on nine hits.
Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez did not fare much better, however. Sanchez allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits -- all of which came in the fourth frame -- before exiting the game after four innings of work. Lonnie Chisenhall delivered the biggest blow off Sanchez with a three-run homer to right-center.
"It looked like it might be a laugher early, and that evaporated when we didn't make a couple of plays," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's what happens in the big leagues when you don't make plays, the game punishes you. Normally, if my memory serves me right, you cough up a lead like that, the game usually collapses. But he bounced back with a big home run from Eddie."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Digging the long ball: Martin continued his recent power surge with a solo home run to right-center field in the top of the third. It was Martin's sixth home run in his last six games after hitting eight in his first 95 games of the season. Later in the third, Upton Jr. added a two-run shot to right-center field for his second home run since joining the Blue Jays. According to Statcast™, Upton's 18th of the year was projected to travel 394 feet and left his bat at 102 mph. Encarnacion then delivered the eventual game-winner in the fifth with a solo shot to left for his 35th of the year.
"After a long inning like that, our morale is a little bit down," Encarnacion said of his home run, which immediately followed an inning in which the club blew a 5-0 lead. "I took advantage of that and hit the ball out."
Big Lon's big bat: Chisenhall battled through a lengthy at-bat with Sanchez in the fourth inning. Chisenhall deposited the 10th pitch of the at-bat into the seats in right-center for a three-run blast to even the score, 5-5. Per Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 425 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. His blast capped a five-run fourth inning, erasing an early Toronto lead. For Chisenhall, it was his eighth home run of the season and second through 10 games this homestand. He tacked on his 20th double in the sixth, as well, but was left stranded.
"After chasing early, it was nice to kind of settle down there," Chisenhall said. "I don't know how many pitches I saw. Being able to see that many pitches in a row, I was able to calm down. It was a good swing. It was nice to come back right there and answer back after they put up a few runs and put us in a good spot."
The hustle play: Toronto's second inning appeared to be going nowhere as the club picked up two quick outs, but a bloop single by Darwin Barney and a double to right by Ryan Goins put a pair of runners on base. Devon Travis followed with a little dribbler down the third-base line, and Cleveland's Jose Ramirez made the ill-advised decision to try and barehand the ball, only to see it bounce away. Barney easily scored from third, and once Goins saw Ramirez overrun the ball, he made the turn at third and also scored to give Toronto an early 2-0 lead.
"That was crazy," Travis said. "I was just trying to battle, [Tomlin] has good stuff. I had no idea that I would end up getting two RBIs out of that, but that's pretty cool. That's Go-Go right there, for sure, hooking me up."
Tomlin's troubles: For the third time this season, Tomlin surrendered three home runs in an outing. It marked the first time since June 26. The latest barrage of blasts increased his home run total to 32 allowed on the year, which is the most in all of baseball. Entering Saturday, Tomlin trailed only Jered Weaver (30) of the Angels in most home runs allowed this season. After Saturday's showing, Tomlin has allowed at least one homer in each of his last 13 starts.
"It's very disappointing," Tomlin said. "Because the offense puts up a fight, they tie the game back up and make it a game. For me to go out there after that big inning and give up a home run to the first batter that inning, it erased that five-run inning, which stinks. But I have got to do a better job of limiting the damage the previous innings." More >
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"Since I've been here, we've had it. Even two years ago, three years ago, when we weren't even in it, we were still coming back in games and not giving up. That's something to have. You don't want to roll over, especially when you're trying to pick up games or extend a lead or just make your organization proud. You go out there and you fight until the ninth and then come back and get them tomorrow." -- Chisenhall, on Tribe's ability to fight back all year
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Encarnacion joined Mark Trumbo of the Orioles as the only players in the American League with at least 35 home runs this season. It's Encarnacion's fourth season of 35 home runs or more with the Blue Jays, which is tied with José Bautista for the second most in franchise history. Carlos Delgado is first with five.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-5, 4.63 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series vs. the Indians on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Stroman got off to a rough start this season, but he has been much better during the second half. Since July 1, Stroman is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA over 52 1/3 innings.
Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (13-8, 3.15 ERA) will be seeking his fifth straight winning decision when he takes the bump in the finale. The ace has been dominant as of late, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.65 ERA over his last seven turns for the Tribe. In his last start, Kluber tossed six innings of one-run ball in the win over the White Sox.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.