Ezequiel Carrera was ruled safe by review on a close play at the plate in the eighth inning on Josh Donaldson's go-ahead RBI single, as part of a three-run rally that led the Blue Jays to a 9-6 victory on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The lead switched sides twice in the final three innings in a game that also saw Rajai Davis become the eighth player in Cleveland franchise history to hit for the cycle.
"Losing is hard. I don't care [what led to it]," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It was a hard game to win, but I still would've liked to have seen our chances if that guy's out at the plate."
Cleveland suffered its first loss since June 15 at Kansas City. The 14-game winning streak set a franchise record and was the longest in the American League since Oakland won 20 consecutive games during the 2002 season. Along the way, the Indians swept the White Sox, Rays, Tigers and Braves before taking the first two games from Toronto.
"We're starting to believe that we're pretty good," Indians catcher Chris Gimenez said. "That's something that can be a very powerful thing, to be honest with you. [When] you get a group of guys together that start believing that something can really happen here, it's amazing."
Donaldson finished the day 2-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored, a pair of RBIs and a walk. Edwin Encarnacion also added a pair of hits, including a three-run homer, while right-handed reliever Jason Grilli picked up the victory after he tossed a clean eighth inning.
"Any win is important, no matter if you've won 14 in a row or lost 14 in a row," Donaldson said. "It's Major League Baseball, and it's going to come down to the wire. We'll take every win."
Davis put the finishing touches on his cycle in the ninth inning, with a single off Toronto closer Roberto Osuna. The veteran outfielder led off the game with a solo homer to left, followed by a triple in the third inning and a double in the seventh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Breaking the deadlock: The Blue Jays took the lead for good in the eighth when Donaldson, the reigning American League MVP, drove in Carrera from second base. Carrera was initially called out at the plate, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons immediately challenged the call. The explanation that the Indians received was that video evidence showed Carrera slid safely into home before Gimenez applied the tag on his leg, giving Toronto a 7-6 lead.
Francona didn't agree.
"I went and looked at it six or seven times, and I don't know how you can overrule that," Francona said. "I mean, I couldn't tell if he's safe or out. If he would've called him safe, I don't know how they would've overruled it to call him out. I don't know how you overrule that. I know they keep telling us it has to be conclusive. I will look forward to an explanation that I understand from the league because, as of now, from what I've seen, I don't know how they did that. I was shocked." More >
Trading blows: Cleveland trailed, 5-4, entering the seventh inning before Davis doubled and later scored on an RBI single by Jose Ramirez to tie the game. Mike Napoli put the Indians in front with a double to the gap in left-center field. The lead proved to be short-lived, as Donaldson evened the score in the Toronto's half of the frame with a solo shot to center. Donaldson's 20th home run of the season was projected by Statcast™ to travel 431 feet, and it left his bat at 103 mph.
"It was a big game, you could feel it," Gibbons said. "Everybody was tired ... both teams were exhausted. A number of guys on both teams were down, things like that. But both teams put on a pretty good show. A good entertaining game. We needed that win more than they did."
Tulo Time: The game was tied at 3 when Troy Tulowitzki ended the stalemate with a two-run shot to left field. According to Statcast™, Tulowitzki's 13th homer of the year was projected to travel 383 feet and left his bat at 105 mph. The home run immediately followed a botched play by Cleveland's infield that could have ended the inning. Juan Uribe fielded a slow chopper to third off the bat of Russell Martin, but his throw to first one-hopped Carlos Santana, who could not pick it out of the dirt. Martin was called safe and the inning continued, allowing for Tulowitzki's homer.
Welcome to the bigs: The Indians promoted 23-year-old lefty Shawn Morimando from Double-A Akron prior to the game to help their fatigued bullpen, following Friday's 19-inning marathon. The first task of his Major League career? Try facing reigning AL MVP Donaldson and Encarnacion in the third inning. Morimando turned in 3 2/3 innings, in which his lone setback was Tulowitzki's fifth-inning shot. The rookie struck out four -- including Donaldson -- and walked one in his debut.
"It was awesome," Morimando said of his first game in the Majors. "I didn't even feel my legs or my release point or anything. I was just trying to find a way to get the job done. It's something that you can't even put into words. I'm still speechless. I knew I had to find a way to throw strikes and attack the zone [as] best I could." More >
A painful run: The Indians trimmed Toronto's lead to 5-4 in the sixth, when Uribe was struck on the right hand by a pitch from Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini with two outs and the bases loaded. Uribe was checked by a trainer and initially stayed in the game, but exited before the home half of the sixth. Ramirez moved to third base from shortstop and Francisco Lindor, who had been given a day off from starting, took over at shortstop.
X-rays on Uribe's hand came back clean, but Francona said the veteran would need to be re-evaluated on Sunday morning.
"We're going to have to check him out," Francona said. "He couldn't grip a ball, so we're working through some things."
"Myself and Eddie were the only rested guys on the team. He got the big homer to put us up." --Gibbons, on Encarnacion. Both men were ejected during the first inning of Friday's 19-inning loss to Cleveland
"I thought we had him out. [Center fielder Tyler Naquin] made a pretty good throw on a pretty tough high hop, but I definitely thought I had him in the leg. The explanation that they gave us was that his arm got in there before I tagged him, which I don't necessarily think that was the case." --Gimenez, on the play at the plate in the eighth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Marco Estrada's streak of 12 consecutive starts with at least six innings pitched and five hits or fewer surrendered came to an end on Saturday. That's a Major League record after Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta and Johnny Cueto previously did it 10 starts in a row. More >
DAVIS' REVERSE CYCLE
For more than a decade, Travis Hafner held the distinction of being the last Indians batter to complete a cycle, having done so against the Twins on Aug. 14, 2003. That ended with Davis' performance on Saturday, when he achieved the rare feat in reverse fashion. It was the first cycle against the Blue Jays since Hall of Famer George Brett did so for the Royals on July 25, 1990. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: For Sunday's 1:07 p.m. ET finale against the Blue Jays, the Indians will turn to right-hander Corey Kluber (8-7, 3.50 ERA). Kluber is coming off a strong showing in June, during which he went 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings for the Tribe.
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.70 ERA) will take the mound for Toronto in the series finale. Happ is coming off a rough outing vs. the Rockies, in which he surrendered five runs on nine hits over five innings. Since that start took place at Coors Field, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Happ is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five career appearances vs. Cleveland.