CLEVELAND -- The situation was eerily familiar. Asdrubal Cabrera entered the batter's box with the bases loaded and delivered an RBI single. Up stepped Travis Hafner with the bags still packed, and a sense of deja vu seeped into the stirring minds of 25,835 at Progressive Field.
On Thursday, Hafner slugged a walk-off grand slam to cap a five-run ninth-inning rally that every Clevelander immediately stowed away in the long-term memory bank.
This time around, Hafner couldn't replicate his late-inning heroics, whiffing on a 93-mph heater from Jason Frasor, and the Indians' attempt at completing another comeback fell short in an 11-7 loss to the Blue Jays.
"They strung together some hits," Jays manager John Farrell said. "Frasor comes in and does an outstanding job. Obviously, the strikeout to Hafner is the key moment of the game."
The Indians entered the ninth inning of Thursday's contest trailing by four runs after eight frames of sloppy defense and stranded runners. Friday's game offered more of the same, only the odds were stacked even more heavily in Toronto's favor. The Blue Jays' six-run advantage proved too sizable for Cleveland to surmount.
The Indians played from behind the entire night. As he's done often of late, Tribe starter Mitch Talbot (2-6, 6.33 ERA) encountered early trouble. For the fourth time in five outings, the right-hander allowed at least two runs in the first two innings. The Jays scratched across three runs in the second frame.
"He's been putting himself and ourselves behind, and it's not easy to play catchup baseball," Indians skipper Manny Acta said. "He's scuffling right now."
Toronto was far from finished. For the second straight outing, Talbot surrendered at least 10 hits. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed eight runs on 11 base knocks. His night ended in the sixth, when left fielder Travis Snider socked his second homer of the season into the seats in right-center field. Catcher J.P. Arencibia followed with a single, and Talbot hit the showers, falling short of a quality start for the sixth time in seven outings.
Talbot's slide has left him puzzled. The hurler with the deep repertoire insists his command and effort have been up to snuff.
"My stuff is good. My location, I don't think, is any worse," Talbot said. "Maybe I'm getting behind too many hitters."
Snider accounted for three of Toronto's 16 hits. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion recorded four of his own, and scored four runs. The offensive onslaught was too much for Talbot, and the Indians, to overcome.
"It really put us behind the eight-ball and also in trouble, because we have a bullpen that just battled the Yankees for three days and we tacked on five innings on them [on Thursday]," Acta said. "We needed him to go as deep as he could, and that wasn't the case today."
Talbot hasn't won a start since May 31, and Acta's patience might be wearing thin.
"We're not going to overreact over a start, but we do have to look into things," Acta said. "It's been three and a half months of baseball, and we're on top and we're in this thing and we only have two-and-a-half months to go. We have to do whatever is best for the team, so we have to look at all our options."
Talbot even admitted concern about his roster spot, given his recent struggles on the mound.
"It's a given when you're in the running and you're not doing your job like you should, they're probably going to replace you," Talbot said. "So, I try not to let it affect me too much and keep working my bullpen sessions and see if we can improve some things."
Talbot's counterpart, Toronto starter Jo-Jo Reyes, quieted a Cleveland offense that produced plenty of noise against the Jays' 'pen for the second straight night. Before reliever Shawn Camp allowed three runs in the eighth, Reyes routinely worked his way out of trouble without overpowering the Indians' hitters. He didn't strike out a batter, but scattered eight hits and three unearned runs over 5 2/3 innings.
"I battled the whole game," Reyes said. "Luckily, I got some runs behind me. They were able to give me a little lead, where I was able to battle the whole game and not worry."
Reyes disposed of a 28-start winless streak when he tossed a gem against the Indians on May 30, allowing just one run in a complete-game victory. He wasn't as sharp on Friday, as he threw 107 pitches and didn't make it out of the sixth. Nevertheless, the Indians couldn't convert with runners on base against him, as they fell to 26-6 when recording 10 or more hits. Cleveland stranded 13 runners, and have now left 35 on base in their past three games.
Still, all of the offensive frustration was nearly erased from memory in the eighth. Even after Hafner struck out, Travis Buck delivered a two-run double placed perfectly between Snider and the 19-feet-high left-field wall. But with the tying run at the plate, Orlando Cabrera popped out to shallow right field, and Matt LaPorta grounded out to shortstop, diffusing fans' dreams of deja vu.
"Our offense showed some life at the end of the game," Acta said, "but unfortunately, it was too big of a hole to dig out of."
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.