Blue Jays ride big fourth inning to take opener from Indians
The Toronto Blue Jays knew they would be in for a tough series against the solid pitching of the Cleveland Indians. That meant the Blue Jays offense would have to pick their moments and capitalize on Tribe mistakes.
They did just that, riding a 5-run 4th inning to a 5-1 win over Cleveland in the first of a four-game series with the Indians.
After going hitless against Indians starter T.J. House through the first three innings, the Blue Jays bats came out with a vengeance in the 4th. A lead-off walk to Jose Bautista got the ball rolling, followed quickly by a single by Edwin Encarnacion to force a first and third situation. Lefty-killer Danny Valencia them struck, plating Bautista. Russell Martin then scored Encarnacion with an RBI double, pushing Valencia to third. Kevin Pillar added on with a 2-run double of his own, and then came in to score on a nifty suicide squeeze bunt by Jonathan Diaz.
It was an interesting night to say the least. Toronto sent young lefty to the mound and he held the Indians scoreless for three innings. However, control issues led to a rising pitch count and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons apparently felt that the Jays were getting lucky and that 78 pitches was enough for Norris. Fellow lefty Jeff Francis came in to relieve Norris and threw 2.1 innings while allowing just a single run on 3 hits and striking out 3.
The bullpen train would then roll on from there, with Roberto Osuna (1.2 IP, 2 K’s), Aaron Loup (1 IP, 2 hits, DP), and Brett Cecil closing the door on an Indians team that went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
- With such a short outing for Norris, and his previous discussions of “dead arm”, thoughts immediately went to wondering if there was an injury involved. However, at least for now, it looks like the Blue Jays are just trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth and got Norris out of there before too much damage was done. Overall, Norris threw just 42 of his 78 pitches for strikes.
- Another fantastic outing for Roberto Osuna. After a couple of shaky appearances, Osuna gave the Jays 1.2 innings of great pitching to once again how why the Jays are so high on him in the bullpen.
- The win by Jeff Francis was the first by a Canadian pitcher throwing to a Canadian catcher since John Axford and George Kottaras pulled off the feat in June 2012 and the first time it was done in Blue Jays history. (h/t Mike Wilner).
- Devon Travis’ 0 for 4 night was just the fifth time he’s gone hitless in the month of April and he finished the month with a .325 batting average. However, he failed to reach base in just 3 of those games.
- A two-hit night for Edwin Encarnacion pushed his average for April up over the Mendoza line (.205). Now, we’ll get to see if he can once again set Blue Jays records in the month of May.
- Oh, and for those that were curious, Kevin Pillar did make his nightly highlight reel grab in the outfield.
Next: Jumping to conclusions: The April Edition