Pillar lifts Jays after Indians' Ramirez leaves bases loaded
By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Carlos Carrasco pitched a gem, and AL MVP contender Jose Ramirez came to the plate at the perfect moment.
And still the Cleveland Indians couldn’t turn it into a victory.
Kevin Pillar hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 11th after Ramirez grounded out with the bases loaded in the top of the inning, allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to beat the Indians 3-2 on Friday night.
Pillar’s second career walkoff home run came off right-hander Adam Cimber (3-6). It was Pillar’s 12th homer of the season.
The loss was Cimber’s first with Cleveland following a midseason trade from San Diego.
“I thought the slider was the right pitch there,” Cimber said. “Just didn’t execute it and he smacked it.”
The Blue Jays recorded their eighth walkoff win of the season, one more than they had last year. Toronto is 20-12 in one-run games.
Cleveland dropped to 2-7 in extra innings. The Indians’ magic number to clinch a third straight AL Central title remains at seven.
Carrasco matched a season best by striking out 14 over eight innings. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, and six hits.
After establishing his fastball, Carrasco relied on his slider and changeup to keep the Blue Jays swinging and missing. He struck out four straight over the first and second innings and fanned a pair in six of his eight innings.
“Even on 3-2, I was using my slider,” he said. “It was good.”
Just not good enough for the Indians to triumph.
“Anytime a guy pitches that well, you want to give him a win,” infielder Jason Kipnis said.
Toronto won for the first time in franchise history when striking out at least 20 times.
“There’s probably not a better slider in the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Carrasco. “He attacks. If he’s on, there’s going to be some walking back to the dugout.”
Yan Gomes hit a solo home run for the Indians.
Pillar had reached third base with two outs in the ninth, but Neil Ramirez sent the game to extra innings by getting Richard Urena to fly out.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the 11th, but Danny Barnes (3-2) relieved Jake Petricka and got Ramirez to ground out to second base.
Ramirez opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single off Marco Estrada in the fifth, but the Blue Jays scored in the bottom half when Rowdy Tellez doubled and scored on Aledmys Diaz’s sacrifice fly.
The Indians reclaimed the lead on a two-out homer by Gomes in the sixth, his 13th, but Toronto tied it again when Randal Grichuk and Tellez hit back-to-back doubles off Carrasco in the seventh.
Tellez has six doubles in his first three games, making him the first rookie since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to have six doubles over any three-game stretch in his debut season.
Toronto put runners at first and second with two outs in the eighth, but Carrasco ended his outing by getting Grichuk to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Estrada allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
Astros teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are the only other pitchers to strike out 14 or more twice this season.
Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro touched on a number of subjects in a rare media availability several hours before the game. Shapiro denied a rift with team owner Rogers Communications and shot down a report linking him with the New York Mets.
“This is where I want to be,” he said.
Shapiro also responded to Thursday’s criticism from the MLB Player’s Association over the Blue Jays decision not to promote top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., viewed as a manipulation of the 19-year-old star’s service time.
“I feel strongly that the best thing for Vladdy’s development is the path that we’ve laid out,” Shapiro said, adding that he welcomes “scrutiny” from the union. Guerrero was named Baseball America’s minor league player of the year Friday.
Regarding the roster rebuild currently underway in Toronto, Shapiro said “there’s no longer any gray area about where we are,” adding that a return to competitiveness could be “a matter of two, three, four years, because that’s the amount of time it takes for players to transition to the major league level.”
Indians: 3B Josh Donaldson (left calf) went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in a playoff game for Double-A Akron. … OF Michael Brantley (left foot) sat for a second straight day. … LHP Andrew Miller (left shoulder) will throw a side session Saturday.
Indians RHP Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.04) faces Blue Jays RHP Sean Reid-Foley (1-2, 5.51) on Saturday afternoon. Plutko is winless in seven outings since a June 24 victory over Detroit. Reid-Foley allowed one run in seven innings to beat Miami for his first career win last Sunday, his third big league start.
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