Home runs power Indians past Blue Jays
CLEVELAND -- Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Brett Hayes each launched a home run for the Indians, who churned out 13 hits in a 9-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland, which entered the evening with a 1-8 record against left-handed starters this season, pounded veteran southpaw Mark Buehrle (3-2) for eight runs over 4 1/3 innings. Kipnis led off with a homer off Buehrle in the first inning, Brantley belted a two-run blast in the fourth and Hayes added a three-run shot off reliever Andrew Albers in the fifth. Albers was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after the game.
"I just hope its been a bad stretch for all of us," Buehrle said. "We've pretty much killed this team, killed the bullpen already. We've only had a handful of games where we go out and pitch into the seventh … today it was kind of an embarrassment to go out and get your butt kicked like that."
Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (six homers this season) led off the game with a home run off Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco (3-2), who allowed four runs on six hits in six innings. Carrasco also surrendered a three-spot in the third, when Edwin Encarnacion came through with an RBI single and Kevin Pillar added a two-run triple.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leadoff shots: The Blue Jays and Indians traded leadoff home runs, providing a unique set of fireworks in the first inning. Donaldson (making his his first career start as a leadoff man) opened the game with a blast to left field off Carrasco. Kipnis followed suit, ripping a leadoff shot off Buehrle in the bottom of the frame. It marked the first time since May 14 last season (White Sox at A's) that both team led off with a home run in the same game. More >
"Yeah, I haven't seen that too often with leadoff guys hitting homers to start the game," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "I'm sure it's happened, but I don't know if I've ever seen it."
Smooth response: Cleveland had a would-be run overturned by a replay review in the fourth inning, but that did not hinder an important rally for the club. With two outs and a runner on second, Brantley followed by drilling a 2-0 offering from Buehrle to center field for a two-run home run to push the Tribe to a 6-4 lead. The shot was the first of the year for Brantley, who had 20 homers a year ago.
"That was big," Kipnis. "We were going well. We were fighting. Then we thought that was going to still go for us, then it stopped and we're like, 'Oh man.' Brantley was like, 'We're still going.' So it was a good thing to keep pushing through."
Moss gathers RBIs: With the bases loaded in the third, Buehrle scrambled off the mound, gloved a chopper from Carlos Santana and recorded a force out at the plate. Indians slugger Brandon Moss did not let the great defensive play linger for too long. He came up after Santana and yanked a pitch into the right-field corner for a two-run double to help ignite a three-run outburst for the Tribe. More >
"We're down three and probably against the last guy you ever want to be behind [against]," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I thought our approach tonight -- from top to bottom -- was really good. There were some good things that happened a lot."
Crash landing: Pillar did it yet again, saving another run with a spectacular catch in the outfield while crashing into the wall. Last night, the victim was Brandon Moss. This time, it was Kipnis, whose fourth inning line drive to left-center field likely would have scored Michael Bourn to give the Indians the lead, had Pillar not made the grab. He entered the game second among all Major League outfielders with seven defensive runs saved. More >
"The reports we all had in the minor leagues is that this kid can flat-out play," Gibbons said. "Now, the big difference is that he's out there every day. He wasn't the last couple years, he was playing a platoon role and facing lefties and there aren't many lefties. Now he's playing every day and he's settled in. He's been tremendous."
"Today it was contagious. Guys were feeling good and there was a loose environment in the dugout. I can't tell you how much a different calendar month does for a baseball player's psyche. When you say it turns a page, it really does." -- Kipnis, on the Indians' 13-hit attack
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged a safe call at the plate during a critical moment in the fourth inning. On a double down the right-field line by Cleveland's Mike Aviles, Bourn attempted to score from first and was called safe on a headfirst slide. The umpires reviewed the play at Gibbons' request and overturned the call after deeming that catcher Russell Martin had applied a tag on Bourn's back in time. The review lasted two minutes and five seconds.
"I think the biggest thing of all was, when we got that run taken off the board, that hurts," Francona said. "And Brantley steps up and hits a home run. That was huge. But we really stayed after them. That's probably the only way you mount a comeback against [Buehrle], because you're always a pitch away from a double play the way he pitches."
Blue Jays: Aaron Sanchez looks to find the strike zone, as he pitches to keep his rotation spot. The Blue Jays have discussed the possibility of moving the rookie back to the bullpen -- where he thrived in limited action last year -- due to his inconsistent nature as a starter this season. His 16.1 BB% is the highest among all starters with at least 15 innings pitched, and it's led to a 5.03 ERA through his first four starts. He owns a 1-2 record in 2015.
Indians: After posting a 2.49 ERA in his first three outings this season, reigning American League Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber has gone 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA in his last two starts. The right-hander will look to get back on track on Saturday, when the Indians host the Blue Jays in the third tilt of this four-game set in Cleveland.
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