High-leverage situations a struggle for Cecil

Blue Jays left-hander allows go-ahead home run in loss to Indians

High-leverage situations a struggle for Cecil

CLEVELAND -- Brett Cecil's disappointing season went from bad to worse as his struggles continued in another late-inning loss to the Indians.

Cecil was called upon in the eighth inning to protect a one-run lead on Sunday afternoon, but he ended up surrendering a two-run homer to Jose Ramirez. That proved to be the breaking point in Toronto's 3-2 loss in the series finale at Progressive Field.

The veteran lefty entered this year as one of the most reliable setup men in all of baseball, but 2016 has been a different story. With the loss, Cecil's record dropped to 1-7 with a 5.13 ERA.

"They have a dynamite offense, good pitching, great balance, all the switch-hitters, speed," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the Indians. "There's a reason why they're really good. It was one of those series where all three games could have gone either way. They got the best of us."

Ramirez's go-ahead home run

Cecil, who was not available to speak with the media after the game, had already been pushed out of the club's top setup role, but he was pressed into action Sunday afternoon because Joaquin Benoit and Jason Grilli were not available to pitch after appearing in the first two games of the series.

The 30-year-old entered with one out in the eighth inning and retired the first batter he faced, but then allowed a single to Francisco Lindor before Ramirez hit a no-doubter to left field for his 10th home run of the season.

Cecil entered play on Sunday having allowed one run over his previous 9 2/3 innings, but the numbers in high-leverage situations are not pretty. In those scenarios, Cecil has allowed opponents to hit 16-for-41 (.390) with 14 runs scored, three doubles and two home runs.

In this particular case it cost right-hander Marcus Stroman a victory. Stroman cruised through most of the game and allowed just one earned run before he departed with one out in the eighth inning. Stroman, who got off to a rough start this year, has posted a 3.02 ERA since the start of July.

"No, if I had done that I probably would have done it," Gibbons said when asked if he considered leaving Stroman in to finish the eighth. "I just figured with [Jason] Kipnis, the lefty coming up, flip those other [switch-hitters] around, the kind of guys who gave him a little trouble earlier in the game, and he was getting there."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.