CLEVELAND — Kevin Pillar’s two-run double highlighted a big fourth inning and Toronto’s bullpen worked the final six innings, leading the Blue Jays to a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.
The Blue Jays, the highest-scoring team in the American League, broke open a scoreless game with a five-run inning.
Blue Jays starter Daniel Norris lasted only three innings, but Jeff Francis, Roberto Ozuna, Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil finished it off. Francis (1-0) allowed one run in 2 1-3 innings.
TJ House (0-4) didn’t allow a hit through three innings, but couldn’t retire a batter in the fourth when the first five hitters reached base and scored.
The Indians, predicted to contend for a playoff spot, end April with a 7-14 record, the worst in the AL. Cleveland is 1-9 when scoring three runs or fewer and has lost nine of 13.
Danny Valencia’s RBI single and Russell Martin’s run-scoring double gave Toronto the lead before Pillar doubled in two more runs, ending the night for House. Jonathan Diaz’s squeeze bunt scored the fifth run.
Jose Bautista drew a leadoff walk and Edwin Encarnacion singled before the next three hitters drove in runs, sending House to the showers.
Pillar added a spectacular catch when he ran down Brandon Moss’ drive to centre field in the fifth. Pillar hung on to the ball despite hitting his head against the wall and crashing to the ground.
Slow starts in April are nothing new to the Indians. Cleveland went 11-13 in 2013, but qualified for the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Indians were 11-17 last April and missed the playoffs by three games.
Norris, a rookie left-hander, dodged trouble through three innings, but didn’t come out of the fourth after throwing 78 pitches. Francis gave up Michael Brantley’s RBI single in the fifth.
Blue Jays: Manager John Gibbons said Bautista, who is dealing with a sore right shoulder, might play catch this weekend. Bautista hasn’t played right field since April 21 and was the DH for the fourth straight game Thursday.
Indians: OF Nick Swisher (double knee surgery) will play at Triple-A Columbus on Friday and Saturday as he continues his rehab assignment. He could rejoin the Indians next week.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle, who was roughed up for five runs and 13 hits in 5 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday, will make his 49th career start against the Indians on Friday.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits Sunday against Detroit, will make his first appearance at Progressive Field since being hit in the face by Melky Cabrera’s line drive on April 14.
The Associated Press