CLEVELAND -- Teoscar Hernandez made his return to the Major Leagues on Friday night. Within a couple of hours, he was already proving to be a difference maker.Hernandez delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the top of the seventh inning, as the Blue Jays snapped Cleveland's winning streak of five
CLEVELAND -- Teoscar Hernandez made his return to the Major Leagues on Friday night. Within a couple of hours, he was already proving to be a difference maker.
Hernandez delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the top of the seventh inning, as the Blue Jays snapped Cleveland's winning streak of five games with an 8-4 victory at Progressive Field. The timely hit came off All-Star reliever Andrew Miller and allowed the Blue Jays to pick up their ninth win over their last 12 games.
The seventh-inning outburst was part of a big night that saw Hernandez go 2-for-5 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz chipped in with a momentum-shifting homer, while Steve Pearce also got in on the action with a key two-run double in the ninth. That gave Toronto its fourth comeback win of the season.
"We think he's [Hernandez] starting to come into his own," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I think the plan is he'll be one of the outfielders here for a lot of years. Big way to start, we needed that."
The Blue Jays appeared to catch a big break during Hernandez's at-bat. Miller got ahead of Hernandez 0-2, before throwing an 84-mph slider that appeared to catch the outside corner. Toronto's left fielder thought it did as well, as he took a step toward the dugout after the ball crossed the plate, but quickly stopped in his tracks when home plate umpire Gerry Davis did not signal for strike three.
The non-call gave Hernandez a second chance at the plate, and he didn't waste it. Miller threw another slider on the next pitch, but this one caught too much of the plate and it was left up in the zone. Hernandez made him pay with a line drive into the left-field corner for a double to score Pearce.
"Yeah, it was a good pitch," Hernandez admitted after the game. "The umpire missed it. I got another chance and I did some damage."
Hernandez was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day when Josh Donaldson was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He doesn't necessarily have guaranteed playing time moving forward, but that may not be a concern if he hits the way he did on Friday. The Dominican native made his Blue Jays debut last September with eight home runs that month, and he picked up right where he left off in his first game of 2018.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman started the game, but did not factor into the decision. He got off to another rough start by allowing a pair of runs during each of his first two innings. That prompted Gibbons to have his bullpen on standby for most of the night, but Stroman found a way to battle through three more frames. The 26-year-old was charged with four runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings. He now has a 7.98 ERA through his first three starts of the year.
"I just struggled with command early, I've just got to be more down in the zone," Stroman said. "I kind of figured it out in the third going into the fourth, but I've definitely got to be better early on. I'm kind of feeling for it right now, but I think I'm pretty close to getting to where I need to be."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Diaz's dinger: Toronto fell behind by four runs early, but Diaz got his team back into the game with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. According to Statcast™, Diaz's fourth homer of the season was projected to travel 414 feet, and it left his bat at 106 mph. That tied the game at 4, while also making the Blue Jays the only remaining team in the Majors with at least one homer in all but one of their 14 games this season.
"That Diaz at-bat kind of sealed the deal, man," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. "I think he took some good swings on his slider and took some good pitches, and then we tried to just get a heater away. Tip your hat to the guy. I think he had a tremendous at-bat and he ended up taking advantage of a pitch."
Making amends: Cleveland had the go-ahead run in scoring position during the bottom of the sixth when Jose Ramirez hit a sharp grounder that Devon Travis could not handle at second base. The ball bounced off Travis' glove and ricocheted into the air, which prompted Francisco Lindor to round third base and try for home. Travis picked the ball up, and slightly hesitated before making the throw home, but he fired a strike as Russell Martin was able to tag Lindor before his hand touched the plate. In the top of the seventh, Cleveland returned the favor by throwing out Randal Grichuk at home plate to keep the game tied.
"It's a pretty resilient group," Gibbons said. "They enjoy playing, they keep battling. That's a sign of a good team. They have a hell of a team across the way, they don't let you up, one through nine in that lineup, they can pitch and do all of those things. This has always been a tough place for us to play anyways."
HE SAID IT
"I'm sure they'll do X-rays, precautionary, they always do. We don't think it's a big deal." -- Gibbons, on Travis' departure in the ninth inning after he was struck on the right hand by a pitch from Matt Belisle.
The Blue Jays have at least one homer in all seven of their road games this season. Last season, Toronto set a franchise record with 117 home runs on the road.
The Blue Jays will continue their three-game series against Cleveland when left-hander Jaime Garcia takes the mound for a 4:10 p.m. ET start Saturday. Garcia has struck out 12 and walked four in his first two starts of the year, and is 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in two career starts against the Indians. Right-hander Corey Kluber gets the start for the Indians. Rain is scheduled in the forecast, with inclement weather potentially playing a factor in the game.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.