Indians closer escapes trouble with K's to end 8th, 9th
By Jamie Ross
TORONTO -- Twice in the late innings the Blue Jays threatened to overcome a narrow deficit in their series-opening loss to Cleveland on Monday night. And both times they were thwarted by Indians closer Cody Allen, who recorded his seventh save of four-plus outs of the season in the Tribe's 4-2 victory at Rogers Centre.
Allen fanned Justin Smoak with two out and the bases loaded in the eighth and Josh Donaldson with two out and two on in the ninth to extend the Indians' win streak to six games while stopping the Blue Jays' streak at three games.
"He's done that for us for a couple of years," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Allen, who recorded his 28th save of the season and secured 24 in 2014. "That's when you want him pitching. That's when you get his best stuff."
Allen came into the 3-2 game in a high-leverage situation in the eighth after reliever Bryan Shaw gave up a two-out single to Jose Bautista, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of the red-hot Edwin Encarnacion, the owner of a Major League-best 26-game hitting streak.
Encarnacion took the first pitch he saw to left field for a single, moving Bautista to third to bring Troy Tulowitzki to the plate. Allen intentionally walked Tulowitzki to load the bases before striking out Smoak on five pitches to preserve the lead.
The right-hander was tested once more in the ninth with the score 4-2. The Blue Jays threatened again on singles from Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins, bringing up Donaldson, the potential go-ahead run, with two away and the game on the line. Allen came through with another big strikeout, getting Donaldson to swing at a down-and-away curveball to end the game.
"I'm always confident. I expect to come through in those situations for my team," Donaldson said. "It just so happened today that I think I got a little over-excited with a couple of pitches that he threw me. Hopefully I'll learn from that and be better for it tomorrow."
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.