Encarnacion hits two homers to lead charge
Offense backs up outstanding effort from Happ in his second win
TORONTO -- Reading up and down the Blue Jays lineup card, there's no shortage of power hitters.
And when they play at Rogers Centre, it can be "home run heaven," as manager John Gibbons likes to call it.
A few good swings was all it took as Edwin Encarnacion went deep twice and Juan Francisco added a solo shot to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-2 series-clinching victory over the Indians at home on Thursday night.
The two dingers were Encarnacion's 131st and 132nd as a Blue Jay, pushing him past Ernie Whitt and into ninth on the club's all-time list.
"I felt a lot better at the plate," said the power-hitter, who splits time between first base and designated hitter. "The last couple of games I've been getting hits. I've been great at the plate the last couple of weeks, and it makes me happy and very proud because when I play like that I know I can help the team win."
All of Toronto's runs came via the long ball. For Encarnacion, it was the second multi-homer game of the season and 13th of his career.
Gibbons said it appears that Encarnacion has found his swing after a slow start to the season. He revealed that EE had been coping with back spasms the past two days, which caused him to make a last-minute switch from first base to DH on Wednesday.
Watching Encarnacion on the plate Thursday, you wouldn't have guessed there was anything wrong.
"He's one of the top sluggers in the game. Got off to a slow start, then he kicked it in. You look where he's at now too, he's been barreling a lot of balls all year, especially the last month, and a number of times he got nothing to show for it," Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays now lead all Major League teams in home runs at home, with 35 through 21 games. Their 56 homers are more than any American League team, and they trail only the Rockies in total home runs in the Majors. It was the sixth game this season they've gone yard at least three times.
While the bats took care of things at the plate, J.A. Happ went about his business on the mound.
The tall lefty earned his second win in three starts, delivering a six-inning, two-run performance in which he got ahead in counts and stranded Indians runners after getting into trouble several times.
He bounced back from a 2 1/3-inning loss against the Angels on Saturday to help the Blue Jays improve to .500 (21-21) as they hit the road for Texas.
Danny Salazar took the loss for Cleveland. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched four innings and allowed five hits and two earned runs.
He had a clean first inning but the trouble started early in the second, when Encarnacion went yard with his first of the game. Two batters later, Francisco hit his seventh homer of the season.
David Murphy cracked a home run for Cleveland to make it 2-1 in the top of the fifth, before Encarnacion hit his second in the bottom half, giving the Blue Jays all the cushion they needed.
The Indians were able to get runners on base throughout the contest, but Happ repeatedly escaped unscathed.
With one out in the second, Happ gave up a double to Asdrubal Cabrera and then walked Jesus Aguilar to put the tying run on base. But Yan Gomes hit into a 4-3 double play to neutralize the threat.
In the fourth, with two runners on and one out, Happ induced consecutive ground-outs to strand a few more Indians, and then left two more hanging in the fifth, despite giving up the homer to Murphy.
"Once I got through that fifth inning, I felt good," said Happ. "I felt good in the sixth. I thought I had some more in there but I think they thought we had it set up pretty good, and the guys came in and shut it down."
Indians manager Terry Francona said his team just wasn't able to string together enough consistent offense to generate runs. Every time they were able to get to Happ, they couldn't follow through.
"He pitched in enough, especially to our righties," said Francona. "That kind of opened up the rest of the plate. And, we just never really could sustain an inning. We'd get a couple guys on here and there and we just couldn't really get three or four hits in a row."