video thumbnail

CLE@TOR: Tribe tallies eight runs in the third inning

TORONTO -- Sitting inside the visiting manager's office at Rogers Centre earlier this week, Manny Acta said the second goal of every road trip is to find a way to break even in terms of wins and losses.

And the first goal?

"To win them all," said the Indians skipper.

On Wednesday night, that option was off the table, but Cleveland salvaged what began as a rough trip. The Tribe ended its six-game trek through St. Petersburg and Toronto with an emphatic 13-9 romp over the Blue Jays, finishing with a 3-3 ledger on the two-town junket.

In their latest victory, the Indians' offense was bursting from the seams and starter Josh Tomlin -- despite a lackluster showing -- was the beneficiary. Eight players had at least one hit and another eight scored at least one run. It was the type of overwhelming outpouring that had been missing of late.

Consider that Cleveland, which now boasts an American League-best 33-20 record, scored a combined 19 runs over the past two days spent north of the border. The result was two wins over Toronto. In the previous seven contests, the Indians scored 15 runs combined.

The Tribe was shut out twice against the Rays. The club was throttled by the Blue Jays in an 11-1 laugher on Monday night.

Needless to say, Wednesday's game was satisfying for the team.

"I'm pretty happy with the way the guys bounced back," Acta said. "Losing the first one as ugly as we did, coming back from a shutout in Tampa, and then bouncing back [Tuesday] and today, and swinging the bat that well, it's good to see."

Acta said it was also encouraging to see center fielder Grady Sizemore -- shelved for two weeks with a right knee injury prior to the series against the Rays -- have a 4-for-9 showing over the past two days. Carlos Santana, who has battled a slump all year, had three hits on Tuesday and three walks on Wednesday.

Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta, who is a key right-handed bat within a lefty-heavy lineup, went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run in Wednesday's win. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera -- looking more and more like a lock for an All-Star nod -- went 4-for-6 with a trio of doubles in another outstanding showing.

"Everybody hit tonight," LaPorta said. "We got on base, and we did a good job taking pitches and having good at-bats."

LaPorta's blast, which was his seventh of the season, came during an eight-run flourish against the Blue Jays (28-28) in the third inning. Toronto rookie starter Kyle Drabek was long gone by that point. He only lasted two outs and 38 pitches in the first before being pulled from the contest.

In the first inning, Michael Brantley led things off with a double and Cabrera followed suit to give Cleveland a quick 1-0 lead. Drabek then loaded the bases with a pair of one-out walks before surrendering a three-run double to Sizemore. The young pitcher walked one more and Toronto manager John Farrell had seen enough.

"We felt it was time to make a move at that point," Farrell said.

It was an abbreviated outing for a much-hyped pitcher.

"I was looking forward to seeing him," Acta said of Drabek, "because of everything that we heard about him and the future that he has in this game. Unfortunately, he didn't have very good command in the first inning and we took advantage of it."

A nice compliment, but hardly a complaint.

After all, the 12-0 lead that the Indians held after three innings allowed Tomlin (7-2) to focus on pounding the strike zone without much in the way of worries. The right-hander cruised through four frames with ease, but admittedly labored with his command come the fifth and sixth.

"I was just missing over the middle of the plate too much," Tomlin said. "I don't know if I was trying to do too much or not, but the ball was just leaking in to righties and I couldn't get my cutter down and away. It was tough for me to find the outer part of the plate."

Tomlin surrendered a season-high six runs on eight hits in six innings overall, but all the runs and seven of the knocks came between his final two. In the fifth, Eric Thames, Rajai Davis and Jayson Nix collected consecutive triples as part of a three-run outburst.

The Blue Jays became the first team since the 1981 Expos to piece together three straight triples in a game. On May 6 in a tilt against San Diego 30 years ago, Mike Gates, Tim Raines and Tim Wallach also accomplished the rare feat.

Davis added a three-run homer off Tomlin in the sixth inning to cut Cleveland's lead down to 13-6. The Blue Jays struck for one more in the seventh and another pair in the ninth as part of a last-ditch comeback attempt. Fortunately for the Indians, their early lead proved too much for Toronto to overcome.

"It's nice to have that extra cushion," Tomlin said.

And it's nice to escape the road with a .500 showing.

"It's good," Tomlin said. "You get that confidence going into home and try to take care of business at home, try to separate ourselves a little more right now. Right now, I feel like, with how things went in [St. Petersburg], to get two wins here is big for us."

MLB.com Comments