The Cleveland Indians, coming off a strong finish in a losing effort Wednesday, will attempt to turn that momentum into a victory Thursday night in the finale of a four-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays.
The Indians were down 8-0 entering the eighth inning on Wednesday, and they lost 8-6 as Toronto took a 2-1 advantage in the series.
The Blue Jays have already clinched the season series, which they lead 4-2 with just the Thursday game remaining.
Cleveland scored four runs in the eighth on Wednesday, three on Owen Miller’s double, and two in the ninth on home runs by Jose Ramirez and Oscar Mercado, who had a four-hit game.
The Blue Jays managed just two singles and a walk in their last five innings at the plate, and their final 10 batters made outs.
The Indians outhit the Blue Jays 15-10 and had the tying run at the plate when Jordan Romano struck out Austin Hedges to end the game. Cleveland left 11 runners on base and Toronto stranded six.
“We talked about it in conversations on the bench, to keep grinding,” Indians acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “What you want to do is keep chipping away. The line is kind of weird — we had more hits and left more on but they scored more runs. That’s where it means the most.”
Hale added, “Considering where we’re at and some things that have taken place, I like that we’re competitive and that we’re in games. The more of these types of games we’re in, I think as we go down the stretch we’ll be better off in handling these situations.
“It’s important just to have the approach of competing and responding to the situation that you’re faced with at that point.”
The Blue Jays will send out right-hander Ross Stripling (4-6, 4.75 ERA) in their attempt to win the series. The Indians will start right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-4, 6.11) while aiming for a series split.
McKenzie will oppose Toronto for the first time in his career.
Stripling earned a win in Cleveland on May 30, allowing one run on two hits over five innings in the first game of a doubleheader. In two career meetings (one start) against Cleveland, he is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA.
If the Indians are going to split the series, they must find a way to solve Toronto leadoff hitter George Springer, who was 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs on Wednesday. He led off the bottom of the first inning with a long ball for the second game in a row.
Springer is 24-for-64 (.375) with eight doubles, eight home runs, 16 RBIs and eight walks in his 16 games as the leadoff man this season.
“He’s getting more at-bats and more comfortable,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I knew that it was coming, I didn’t know it would be that good.”
In his past 17 games overall, Springer has hit .424 (28-for-66).
“Our team understands that every game is important and that we’re playing for our lives every single day,” Springer said.
Toronto put right-hander Joakim Soria (right middle finger inflammation) on the injured list Wednesday, retroactive to Tuesday. Left-hander Tayler Saucedo was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo, and he allowed five hits and four runs without retiring a batter in the eighth inning Wednesday night.
Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez (back spasms) was a late scratch. He was replaced by Hedges, who went 2-for-5.
–Field Level Media