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Hand's blown save, offensive woes, costs Indians

By JOE NOGA • Updated Jul 24, 2019 at 1:29 AM

TORONTO — Unable to land a knockout punch early, the Cleveland Indians let Toronto hang around long enough to extend Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the ninth before the Blue Jays rallied for a 2-1 win at Rogers Centre.

Justin Smoak’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Toronto its fourth walk-off win of the season. The Blue Jays snapped a six-game losing skid against Cleveland by upending closer Brad Hand and coming through against an Indians bullpen with the best ERA in the American League.

The loss dropped the Tribe to 58-42 after 100 games — but with Minnesota’s wild loss vs. New York, they are three games back still in the AL Central division race.. Cleveland continues to hold the first AL wild card position.

Toronto tied the game in the ninth when Smoak crushed his 17th home run — the lefty’s second in as many nights against the Indians — on an 0-1 slider from Hand. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. nearly ended things one batter later when he hit a 114 mph rocket that bounced off the top of the wall in left for a base hit. But Adam Cimber relieved Hand and struck out Teoscar Hernandez to end the ninth.

Hand suffered his second blown save of the season in 29 chances. The Indians All-Star had successfully converted five consecutive save opportunities since his only other misstep on June 25 against Kansas City.

Indians starter Trevor Bauer was brilliant, allowing just three hits in 7 2/3 innings and striking out nine Blue Jays hitters and walking three. He exited in the eighth inning after allowing a pinch-hit single to Lourdes Gurriel Jr that nearly tied the game.

Hernandez had reached on a leadoff single against Bauer and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Bauer struck out Billy McKinney, pinch hitter Lourdes Gurriel singled to right and Hernandez attempted to sore.

But Carlos Santana’s relay throw to the plate was on time and Roberto Perez applied the tag for the second out of the inning. Toronto challenged the out call, but it was upheld upon review. Oliver Perez then relieved Bauer and struck out Eric Sogard to end the inning.

Cleveland lost for the first time in six meetings between the Indians and Blue Jays this season. The Tribe will attempt to win the three-game series Wednesday. Cleveland has not won a series at Rogers Centre since April of 2013 and is 0-3-2 in it’s last five series in Toronto.

Bauer thew 117 pitches and benefitted from a double-play ground ball off the bat of Randal Grichuk in the second after walking the first two batters in the inning.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s leadoff double in the fifth was the first hit Bauer surrendered to a Blue Jays batter this season after a span of 11 innings. After Grichuk popped out to Jake Bauers in left, Bauer struck out Billy McKinney and Luke Maile to end the threat.

Cleveland is 7-2 over Bauer’s last nine starts, and the 28-year-old is 5-1 in that stretch with a 2.82 ERA.

Baserunners were hard to come by for both clubs on Tuesday as Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez scattered five Cleveland hits and struck out six in five innings. Joe Biagini worked two scoreless innings in relief, striking out a pair.

But Greg Allen broke through in the third with a two-out base hit against Sanchez (3-15, 6.06). Allen picked up his first stolen base of the season with Francisco Lindor batting, and Lindor then sent a sharp grounder to second that got under the glove of Blue Jays infielder Cavan Biggio.

The play was scored a hit and an RBI for Lindor as Allen dashed home. Lindor now has now has 20 RBI and a lifetime .342 batting average against Toronto.

 

Up next

The Indians and Blue Jays meet for the final time in the 2019 regular season Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. Wednesday. Right-hander Shane Bieber (9-3, 3.69) takes the mound for Cleveland while Toronto sends righty Marcus Stroman (6-10, 3.06) to the hill.

Bieber will be making his third career start and second of the season against Toronto. He is 1-0 record with a 3.65 ERA against the Blue Jays, earning the win April 5 at Progressive Field.

Stroman will face the Indians for the second time this year. He took the loss April 7 in Cleveland allowing three runs in six innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against the Tribe.

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