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Tribe erupts for 9-run frame to lift Plutko to win

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Jose Ramirez sent a pitch into the right-field stands on Thursday night and it was like a cork had popped on a pressurized bottle. The fifth-inning shot ignited an overwhelming rally that kept rolling from batter to batter a dozen times over.

Thursday's doubleheader was exhausting enough on its own, but the Tribe's hitters were even more fatigued from sprinting around the basepaths so often in a 13-4 romp over the Blue Jays at Progressive Field. The lopsided nightcap in the day's twin bill included a nine-run outpouring in the fifth, a game after Cleveland put up a seven-run fourth in a 13-11, 11-inning loss in the opener.

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CLEVELAND -- Jose Ramirez sent a pitch into the right-field stands on Thursday night and it was like a cork had popped on a pressurized bottle. The fifth-inning shot ignited an overwhelming rally that kept rolling from batter to batter a dozen times over.

Thursday's doubleheader was exhausting enough on its own, but the Tribe's hitters were even more fatigued from sprinting around the basepaths so often in a 13-4 romp over the Blue Jays at Progressive Field. The lopsided nightcap in the day's twin bill included a nine-run outpouring in the fifth, a game after Cleveland put up a seven-run fourth in a 13-11, 11-inning loss in the opener.

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The teams played 20 innings and combined for 41 runs on 56 hits in seven hours and 58 minutes of baseball. How does a player's legs feel after a day like that?

"What legs?" Francisco Lindor said with a laugh.

A taxed Tribe pitching staff could not capitalize on the wealth of run support in Game 1, but rookie Adam Plutko came to the rescue. In the Indians' win, Plutko took the hill for his first career start in the big leagues and worked into the eighth inning. That nine-run eruption in the fifth was more than sufficient in making the righty's effort hold up.

Video: TOR@CLE: Plutko K's 6, gets the win in his 1st start

It was just last year (on July 25-26, against the Angels) that the Indians last enjoyed seven-run innings in consecutive games, but the latest feat was rare for a doubleheader. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cleveland became the first team to score at least seven runs in an inning in both ends of a twin bill since the A's achieved the feat on July 22, 1975, on the road against the Tigers.

"It happened fast," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We took advantage of it and good for us. You don't show up trying to get a split, but after the way the first game went, you'll be thrilled with it."

Ramirez, who finished a triple shy of the cycle in the victory, led the charge in the nine-run fifth with a two-run homer and an RBI double. Erik Gonzalez contributed a three-run double in the outburst, which also featured an RBI double from Lindor, a bases-loaded walk for Bradley Zimmer and a sacrifice fly via Michael Brantley.

Video: TOR@CLE: Ramirez drives a 2-run homer to right

In the fourth inning of Game 1 and fifth frame of Game 2 combined, Cleveland's lineup sent 25 batters to the plate. They went a combined 14-for-19 in the batter's box with two home runs, four doubles, five walks, one stolen base and a sac fly. In those two innings combined, 11 players scored at least one run and 11 had one or more hits. Seven notched at least one RBI.

"It gets a lot of confidence for everyone -- our hitters -- and we need it," said Lindor, who had two homers in the first game. "Game 1, we tried to come back and we couldn't. They played better than us in the last couple innings. The second game, we went out there early and we put a bunch of runs early on the board, and it was just a matter of maintaining."

Video: TOR@CLE: Lindor clubs sixth, seventh home runs

PLUTKO PICKS UP FIRST MLB WIN
Plutko was promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to Thursday's game and took the mound with a host of family and friends in the Progressive Field stands. Early in his outing, Francona approached him in the dugout with some instructions.

"I said, 'You're on a pitch count. It's 225,'" Francona joked. "And he laughed. I think he actually handled himself really well."

Plutko gave Cleveland precisely what it needed.

Video: TOR@CLE: Francona talks Plutko, win over Blue Jays

In the opening loss on Thursday, Carlos Carrasco labored in his start and then the bullpen allowed seven runs in its 5 2/3 innings. Complicating matters for the Tribe was the fact that reliever Nick Goody injured his elbow in the middle of his outing in Game 1. The Indians desperately needed length out of Plutko and he delivered.

"I was just trying to go out and do my job," Plutko said. "That's to get outs and execute pitches and that was the extent of it. Especially the way they came out and swung the bats in the first game, I wanted nothing more than to just get quick outs and hopefully pitch deep into the game."

After 7 1/3 innings, in which Plutko allowed three solo home runs, struck out six and walked none, the right-hander walked off to a standing ovation.

"Boy, did he save our [rear]," Francona said. "Man, he commanded his fastball, both sides of the plate. He spun a little breaking ball off that and a changeup. He pitched. I mean he really pitched and that was really fun to watch. On a night where you're looking for some things to pick you up a little bit, boy, that's as big as there was."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Go, Go, Gonzo: Gonzalez made the Indians' Opening Day roster partially due to the fact that utility man Gio Urshela began the year on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury. Urshela's Minor League rehab phase ended on Wednesday, meaning Cleveland needs to make a decision on his status. Both Gonzalez and Urshela are out of Minor League options, so it's possible Cleveland will lose one of the players to waivers. Playing for his job, Gonzalez has gone 7-for-12 at the plate with four extra-base hits in the past two days (three games) and helped ignite the nine-run inning with his three-run double on Thursday night.

"He had a heck of a day, my goodness," Francona said. "It's amazing what a little bit of confidence will do too. But, he hit the balls that maybe we haven't seen him hit off a righty and he really picked us up too."

Video: TOR@CLE: Gonzalez collects his 4th RBI with a double

SOUND SMART
The win for the Indians marked the 1,500th victory of Francona's managerial career, ranking him 24th all-time in Major League history. Francona is one of four active managers with at least 1,500 wins, along with the Giants' Bruce Bochy (1,869), the Angels' Mike Scioscia (1,588) and the Orioles' Buck Showalter (1,512). Francona ranks seventh all-time among Indians managers with 471 wins.

Video: TOR@CLE: Lindor slugs his 2nd HR of the game 445 feet

UP NEXT
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-4, 9.16 ERA) will aim to get on track Friday, when the Indians open a three-game road series against the Yankees with a 7:05 p.m. ET tilt against CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.71 ERA) in the Bronx. Tomlin has an 8.57 career ERA in Yankee Stadium.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Adam Plutko