Casey Janssen earned the save as he closed his first game of the season in the ninth, and the Blue Jays edged out a narrow 5-4 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
"Oh man, that was just heroic, is what that was," Toronto starter R.A. Dickey said of Cabrera's throw, which helped the knuckleballer earn the win and improve to 4-3, with all four victories coming at home. He recorded his fifth-straight quality start.
Cabrera's play was preceded by a three-run seventh by the Indians, as they attempted to overcome a four-run deficit. The late charge knocked Dickey from the game after four straight batters reached base to start the seventh. With the bases loaded and none out, Dickey hit Lonnie Chisenhall to force home a run, making it 5-2. The Indians scored two more to come within one run.
That set the table for an exciting eighth. With Brett Cecil pitching, Santana led off with a single. He advanced to second on a passed ball, putting the tying run in scoring position. Cecil fanned back-to-back hitters before Yan Gomes swatted a single into left field, setting up Cabrera's heroics.
"That was possibly the game right there," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "They come back and tie it. You never know what happens after that, after you lose leads."
While Cabrera was the hero in the field, Juan Francisco was equally as important at the plate.
The power-hitting third baseman provided vital offense, going 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, a walk and two RBIs.
His solo shot in the fifth gave the Blue Jays a one-run lead, and his RBI double in the sixth brought home what proved to be the decisive run as the Blue Jays improved to 20-20.
Both starters breezed through the first two innings with no runners reaching base. After retiring eight straight with relative ease, Dickey hit a snag in the top of the third.
Mike Aviles was the first player to reach base in the game when he slapped a single to center field, giving the Indians a runner with two out. Dickey then walked Michael Bourn, moving Aviles into scoring position. Nick Swisher, who was 2-for-15 lifetime against Dickey, sent a line drive into right field to put the Tribe up 1-0.
Indians starter Justin Masterson, meanwhile, entered the game 4-1 lifetime against the Toronto, and saw his success against the Blue Jays continue until the fourth.
The 29-year-old retired nine straight Toronto hitters to open the game before giving up a leadoff triple to Jose Reyes, his first triple since 2012. With two strikes, Reyes woke up the home crowd when he sent a long liner to the left-center-field wall to give the home team its first hit and first runner in scoring position. Cabrera then sent a deep fly ball to center field, scoring Reyes to tie the game.
Francisco's homer in the fifth gave Toronto a 2-1 lead on team's second hit of the game.
The Blue Jays continued to press for more, and attempted to blow the game open in the sixth.
After Masterson walked Cabrera to lead off the inning, Jose Bautista chopped an infield single toward shortstop. That put two runners on for Adam Lind, who doubled to the gap in left-center. Both runners crossed to give Toronto a 4-1 lead. Francisco then got his second RBI in as many innings with a double down the first-base line to make it 5-1.
Masterson took the loss, going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits.
"I just didn't mix it up as well," he said. "That was the biggest thing. We still had some balls down for the most part, but it was just a lot of sinkers. They made a good adjustment to stay with the ball. I just didn't combat the adjustment by mixing it up and maybe throwing a few more sliders, mixing some balls in and stuff like that."