CLEVELAND — The Toronto Blue Jays know better than any team in baseball what happens when Edwin Encarnacion gets hot.
Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs against his former team as the Cleveland Indians routed Toronto 13-3 on Friday night.
“Yeah, many a time, thanks for reminding me,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons joked when asked about seeing similar performances when the slugger played six seasons with Toronto.
Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Cleveland in January, hit a leadoff home run in the second, broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a two-run double and added an RBI single when Cleveland scored eight times in the seventh.
“I always try to give my best no matter who we’re playing,” he said. “Thankfully, I was able to have a good game against my ex-team.”
Encarnacion was 3 for 4 with a walk and nearly added to his total later in the seventh, but centre fielder Kevin Pillar tracked down his fly ball on the warning track with two runners on.
Encarnacion’s big night couldn’t have come at a better time. The Indians won for just the second time in eight games and the offence scored 16 runs during a 1-5 road trip.
“He picked us up,” manager Terry Francona said. “Once he did, sometimes the hitting can get contagious. Tonight was one of those nights. It was good.”
Abraham Almonte hit a three-run homer and rookie Bradley Zimmer added a two-run single in the seventh.
Trevor Bauer (8-8) allowed three runs in five innings. The right-hander lasted only 2/3 of an inning — matching the shortest start of his career — against Oakland on Sunday.
Marco Estrada (4-7) gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings and hasn’t won since May 27.
Jose Morales, Ryan Goins and Justin Smoak drove in runs for Toronto, which took a 3-1 lead into the fifth before Cleveland scored four times.
Almonte led off with a triple and Roberto Perez walked. Erik Gonzalez’s single cut the lead to 3-2 and Francisco Lindor drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Michael Brantley’s RBI fielder’s choice tied the game.
Brantley stole second and Encarnacion lined a 3-2 pitch to the gap in left-centre giving Cleveland the lead.
“We’re playing from a deficit and so many times that’s been really difficult for us,” Francona said. “Not only did we come back, but then we spread it out. That’s a good way to play.”
Encarnacion has hit 20 home runs in six consecutive seasons and has homered against all 30 major league teams.
Estrada knew his fifth-inning problems played a major role in the loss.
“I just got tired,” he said. “I couldn’t get the ball down, I couldn’t locate it any more, and it all fell apart.”
Francona returned to the dugout at Progressive Field for the first time since June 29. He missed the home stand before the All-Star break after undergoing a heart procedure.
Gibbons said right-hander Joe Smith (shoulder inflammation) will be activated Saturday. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list on June 16. The problem flared up two days earlier against Tampa Bay when he gave up three runs and three hits in one inning.
Right-hander Corey Kluber is expected to start Sunday’s series finale for the Indians. His regular turn to pitch was Friday, but he was pushed back a couple of days because of a stiff neck.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez will see a hand specialist for his recurring blister problem. He was removed from his last start after four innings because of a small blister on the middle finger of his right hand.
Indians: LHP Boone Logan (torn back muscle) will miss significant time after being injured Thursday. He was placed on the 10-day DL Friday.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (9-5) seeks his 10th win of the season Saturday. He pitched six shutout innings and defeated the Indians on May 8.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (3-5) will pitch for the first time since June 3. He lost to the Blue Jays on May 10, allowing five runs in 2 2/3 innings.