TORONTO -- The Indians' offense had been putting up early run support for its starting pitchers all season, but it went quiet in a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Coming into Sunday's game, the Indians had three starting pitchers ranked in the top 10 in the American League in run support. Mike Clevinger ranked eighth in the AL prior to the game, but despite posting his fifth consecutive quality start, he was docked with a loss.
The right-hander allowed a two-run home run in the first inning to Justin Smoak when he left a fastball over the middle of the plate. The homer scored Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who walked earlier in the inning.
"It was supposed to be more up and in," Clevinger said. "[Instead], it was low and middle, bad one. He got it."
The only other run he surrendered came in the third inning when a leadoff walk to Reese McGuire came around to score on a Smoak single to left field that beat the shift.
"I think for any pitcher it's tough to swallow, but when you're really thinking about [the shift] it helps you a lot more times than it hurts you," Clevinger said. "Most of the time it plays in your favor."
He finished the afternoon with six innings pitched, allowing just the three runs on four hits with nine strikeouts.
Offensively, Cleveland couldn't generate any sort of rally against Blue Jays starter Thomas Pannone. Francisco Lindor hit a third-inning solo homer to left field, his 34th home run of the season and third of the series."
"I got the pitch I wanted, on the at-bat before, but I just missed it," Lindor said. "So next at-bat I made the adjustment, and as soon as I hit I knew I got it."
Four innings later, Brandon Barnes went deep for his first home run of the year. The two home runs were all the Indians would get against Pannone.
"[Pannone] doesn't light up the radar gun, but being left-handed, he can spin it," Indians manager Francona said. "It just seemed like he got past our barrels, had us reaching, a lot of popups, a little deception with the fastball and just getting past us enough to kind of take the sting out of our bats."
Pannone held the Indians to just four hits over 6 1/3 innings in his third Major League start.
"He just had that little pause in his delivery," Lindor said. "That was enough [to keep us] off balance, missing the barrel by half an inch."
Any chance for a comeback fell apart in the bottom of the eighth. Jon Edwards gave up a leadoff double to Billy McKinney, then after a fielder's choice and a fielding error by Jose Ramirez, Teoscar Hernandez took him deep to center field to give the Blue Jays a late four-run lead.
The Indians moved to 37-34 on the road this season, the worst record of any playoff team. The series split also meant Cleveland lost its first season series to Toronto since 2015.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Three straight strikeouts end eighth: The Indians had a chance to score the game-tying run in the eighth when Michael Brantley led off with a single, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made a pitching change and Jake Petricka retired the next three batters with strikeouts.
With Ramirez's first-inning steal of second, he joined Grady Sizemore (2008) and Joe Carter (1987) as the only Indians players to reach 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs in the same season. Ramirez became the 39th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the mark. More >
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