Mercado lifts Cleveland over Blue Jays to spoil Borucki’s return

Indians 7 Blue Jays 3

TORONTO — Ryan Borucki isn’t in mid-season form just yet. Unfortunately for him, the Cleveland Indians are.

The left-hander made his season debut on Monday after missing the first four months of the season with inflammation in his throwing elbow. He allowed four runs — two earned — over 4 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to Cleveland.

“Just was a little rusty, had a lot of adrenaline running, first day out,” said Borucki. “It’s just a building block from now on. Just something to build off of for my next start, a good starting point for me.”

His next start will come before the end of the week.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo announced that Aaron Sanchez would start on Tuesday, then Marcus Stroman on Wednesday. It could be the last start as a Blue Jay for both pitchers, as either could be shipped out ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

After a one-day break, Jacob Waguespack will take the mound on Friday in the series opener against Tampa and then Borucki will start on Saturday against the Rays.

Borucki (0-1) gave up seven hits, four walks and three strikeouts against Cleveland. He had a 3.00 earned-run average across four minor-league rehab starts this season, averaging fewer than one baserunner per inning in 18 innings pitched.

He acknowledged that nerves were a factor for him on Monday.

“First one back after injury, you just want to go out there and throw a lot of scoreless innings,” said Borucki, who had a minor cut on his middle finger during the game after another fingernail scratched it. “I was anxious a little bit, just wanted to get that first one under my belt.”

Oscar Mercado had a triple and a home run to lead Cleveland (55-41) and catcher Roberto Perez had the go-ahead RBI double in the fifth to back up a solid performance by starter Mike Clevinger.

Clevinger (4-2) was also returning from injury, having suffered a left ankle sprain and an upper-back injury. He did better in his return than Borucki, pitching seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out seven.

“Everything is in synch,” said Clevinger. “Body is moving in synch, mechanics moving in synch and you feel fresh.”

Tyler Clippard pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

Billy McKinney had a two-run homer and Justin Smoak added a solo shot as Toronto (38-64) managed only five hits.

“(Cleveland’s) pitching rotation is just outstanding,” said Montoyo. “That’s what we’re going to face these next two days. It’s going to be a challenge for our hitters. We’re going to have to battle, for sure.”

Justin Shafer, Tim Mayza, Sam Gaviglio and Derek Law came out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays. Shafer allowed two runs in his two-thirds of an inning and Gaviglio gave up a home run to Mercado in his inning.

After a scoreless first inning, Francisco Lindor’s single scored Jason Kipnis and Jake Bauers for a 2-0 Cleveland lead.

Smoak replied in the bottom of the inning, smashing a solo shot to centre field.

Kipnis added another run to Cleveland’s lead in the third, stroking a single through the infield gap to score Jose Ramirez from second.

Borucki was pulled in the fifth inning after a two-out double by Perez drove home Kipnis for a 4-1 lead.

McKinney cut the Indians’ lead to 4-3 with a two-run homer in the fifth, putting Clevinger’s 95.9 m.p.h. fastball just over the right-field wall to score Danny Jansen.

In the next inning, Mercado’s triple to right field gave Tyler Naquin ample time to run home for a 5-3 Cleveland lead.

Shafer was pulled after that, with a team trainer taking him into the clubhouse to be evaluated. The Blue Jays said that Shafer was suffering from right elbow discomfort.

Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly to deep left field off Mayza in the sixth inning scored Mercado to make it 6-3.

Mercado piled on in the eighth inning, sending Gaviglio’s over the left-field wall for a solo home run.

Notes: Right-handed pitcher Trent Thornton (elbow) was put on the 10-day injured list to make space on Toronto’s roster for Borucki. … Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 22,295.

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