Indians 2 Blue Jays 1
TORONTO — A night filled with great escapes for the Toronto Blue Jays ended with one jam they failed to get out of.
Lyle Overbay accepts the responsibility for that.
The first baseman’s throwing error opened the door to big trouble in the ninth inning Tuesday, leading to Victor Martinez’s two-run double that rallied the Cleveland Indians past the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1.
The miscue came after rookie starter Brett Cecil had dodged giving away the big inning for seven frames, something closer Scott Downs couldn’t avoid with victory three outs away.
“It’s the right play,” Overbay said of his decision to throw to second looking for a force on Grady Sizemore’s sacrifice bunt. “Maybe if I don’t get a good grip on the ball, I’ll think twice, but I got a good grip on the ball, he bunted it hard, it was an easy play that wasn’t executed.
“In turn it cost us the game.”
The Blue Jays were leading 1-0 when pinch-hitter Ryan Garko opened the ninth with an infield single. Sizemore followed with the fateful bunt that Overbay threw into left-centre to give Cleveland men at second and third.
Asdrubal Cabrera was walked to load the bases, and after Shin-soo Choo hit into a fielder’s choice that led to an out at home, Martinez dropped a soft liner into the left-field corner to bring two runs home.
Downs (1-1) avoided further damage but the Blue Jays (46-48) could not recover against Cliff Lee (6-9) in the bottom of the frame, bowing out meekly as they failed to win three straight for the first time in a month, and return to .500 for the first time since July 8.
“It looked like we had a chance to win it,” lamented manager Cito Gaston, “and we made some mistakes in the ninth inning and gave it away.”
The late rally rewarded a fine effort by Lee — the defending AL Cy Young Award winner who is generating lots of interest ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but isn’t as openly available as Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.
Lee allowed just seven hits in his third complete game this season, the only major mistake a Scott Rolen solo blast in the seventh, as the Indians (37-57) ended a three-game losing skid before a crowd of 18,330.
“For whatever reason we’ve had bad luck when I’ve pitched,” said Lee, who’s been backed by an average of 3.48 runs per start. “But I feel like I’ve been doing the job.”
Until the ninth, Cecil was on track to win a second straight start. He threw seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high nine batters while allowing seven hits and four walks.
It was tale of two starts for Cecil. He stranded nine runners over his first four innings, and then allowed just two more to reach over his final three, when his fastball command improved.
“Good lesson learned, getting out of jams the whole game,” said Cecil, who made his ninth career start. “It was a hard-fought game.”
Rolen’s blast came after the Indians nearly took the lead in the top of the seventh. Choo’s infield single with two down stopped Cecil’s run of nine straight retired batters and Martinez followed with a double, sliding in safely around Aaron Hill’s tag after Jose Bautista’s strong throw from left easily beat him.
But Travis Hafner grounded out to second to keep the game 0-0.