CLEVELAND -- After the slider popped into the glove of Indians catcher Yan Gomes, Andrew Miller began walking off the mound. The fielders took a step toward Cleveland's dugout and Teoscar Hernandez started to head out of the batter's box.In that moment, everyone on the field thought Miller struck Hernandez
CLEVELAND -- After the slider popped into the glove of Indians catcher Yan Gomes, Andrew Miller began walking off the mound. The fielders took a step toward Cleveland's dugout and Teoscar Hernandez started to head out of the batter's box.
In that moment, everyone on the field thought Miller struck Hernandez out with an 0-2 breaking ball, ending the seventh inning on Friday night. Instead, home plate umpire Gerry Davis called the pitch a ball, and the Blue Jays capitalized on their second chance to send Cleveland to an 8-4 defeat at Progressive Field.
"It was a good pitch," Hernandez said with a grin. "The umpire missed it. I got another chance and I did some damage."
Miller's next pitch -- the one that stuck with him more than the missed call in the aftermath of the loss -- was an elevated, inside slider that Hernandez pulled into the left-field corner for an RBI double. That broke a 4-4 deadlock and ignited a four-run push over the final three innings that was effective in ending the Tribe's five-game winning streak.
There were other contributing factors for the loss. Chief among them was the fourth-inning command woes of starter Mike Clevinger, who surrendered a four spot in the frame after cruising through the first three. That outburst was punctuated by a game-tying, three-run homer from Aledmys Diaz, whose drive to center erased the early work by the Tribe's lineup.
"I just kind of lost it for a little bit," Clevinger said. "I lost it just enough to lose the game."
Indians manager Terry Francona attempted to apply a tourniquet by going to the bullpen in the fifth, and that strategy worked for two innings. In the seventh, though, Zach McAllister entered, and issued a leadoff walk to Randal Grichuk, who stole second and moved to third on a Devon Travis groundout.
With one out, a runner on third and the score still knotted, Francona handed the ball to Miller, the manager's high-leverage weapon. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons countered by calling upon Steve Pearce as a pinch-hitter. Miller won that battle by inducing a chopper to first baseman Yonder Alonso, who fired to Gomes to cut Grichuk at the plate.
That set up the at-bat that served as the catalyst for Cleveland's collapse.
Hernandez watched one slider for a strike and then swung through another, which got by Gomes, allowing Pearce to move up to second. Hernandez then fouled off a fastball. Miller came back with another slider, which was sent to the outer third of the strike zone.
Did Miller think it was a strike?
"It doesn't matter what I think," Miller said. "I've got to move on. It's just the reality of it. Sometimes, you think one thing and you've got to move on and make the next pitch."
Gomes felt it should have been an inning-ending strikeout, but echoed Miller in saying the following pitch was more important in the end.
"Everyone's human," Gomes said. "Everyone's going to make a mistake in that kind of situation. I think we [Gomes and the umpire], at the end of it, kind of both agreed that it might've been a strike. We looked at it, and it was. I think everyone knew that it was. But, it's one of those things that we can't hang our heads on."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lindor out at home: With two outs in the sixth inning, Jose Ramirez hit a hard chopper to Travis, who bobbled the ball in the infield. Francisco Lindor, who was on second base, sprinted around third and headed for the plate with the game caught in a 4-4 deadlock. Toronto's second baseman recovered the ball and fired a strike to catcher Russell Martin, who applied a textbook tag for a rally-halting out.
"I thought it was really good," Francona said of Lindor's aggressiveness. "They caught a break that that ball stayed [close to Travis]. Whether you're [third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh] or Frankie, there's no way to know exactly where that ball is, and it stayed close enough where they had a shot at us. But, I thought it was good baserunning and coaching."
Davis' painful dash: After reaching on an infield single with one out in the second inning, Rajai Davis stole second base. As the outfielder slid in headfirst, his helmet came loose, bounced off Diaz's left arm and struck Davis in the face. Davis sustained a cut above his left eye and a welt quickly formed, but he stayed in the game after having a bandage applied. Lindor and Jason Kipnis followed with back-to-back doubles to push the Indians in front, 4-0.
"He got a pretty good cut," Francona said. "I don't know if they'll butterfly it or stitch it, but he had a pretty good gash there. I wanted him to stay in the game."
Clevinger's abbreviated outing ended a streak of seven consecutive starts in which the right-hander allowed one earned run or fewer, dating back to last season. That was the longest such streak for an Indians pitcher since Bob Feller had a similar seven-start run from July 24-Aug. 17, 1946.
HE SAID IT
"Clearly I walked off the mound. For at least a moment, I had moved on. I was headed to the dugout. My mentality was there with it, too. The next pitch, honestly, I felt like I had the right idea. I just didn't spin the ball very well." -- Miller, on the at-bat against Hernandez
"That Diaz at-bat kind of sealed the deal, man. 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." -- Gomes, on Diaz's homer off Clevinger
Indians ace Corey Kluber is slated to take the mound on Saturday, when the Tribe hosts the Blue Jays in a 4:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Kluber struck out 13 in eight shutout innings in his last outing on Monday against Detroit. The Blue Jays will send Jaime Garcia to the mound opposite Kluber.
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.