TORONTO — While questions continue to swirl this season over the new rule regarding home-plate collisions, a bat that fell in the wrong place at the wrong time thwarted the Indians’ chances of a comeback Tuesday night.
Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera threw out Carlos Santana at the plate in the top of the eighth inning to preserve the Jays’ 5-4 victory at Rogers Centre.
Santana was trying to tie the game after a single by Yan Gomes. But with Gomes’ bat keeping him from looping behind catcher Josh Thole, a sliding Santana tried to take the inside route above the plate.
“It was a great play, great throwing,” Santana said. “(Gomes’) bat was in the middle and I can’t try to slide outside or inside the line, I tried to go straight because the bat was in the middle.
“I tried to be safe. A great moment, great situation, I need to try.”
Asked if he was out, Santana said: “Maybe yes, maybe no. Next time I try to be better.”
Indians manager Terry Francona came out to talk to the home plate umpire while his replay man in the clubhouse looked at the play, but elected not to challenge.
“I was watching the throw,” Francona said. “I thought the ball was going to hit Carlos. I think Carlos was more having to dodge the bat more than anything.”
Until then, the evening was a tale of two right-handers putting themselves back together again, featuring the Indians’ Justin Masterson in the Humpty Dumpty role.
Going perfect through the order the first time, throwing 27 pitches in three innings and recording seven infield outs, Masterson (2-2, 4.31 ERA) fell apart after a allowing a fifth-inning home run to Juan Francisco. The Blue Jays touched Masterson for single runs in the fourth and fifth, then added three in the sixth.
Masterson was coming off two impressive outings and had two victories this month, when he compiled a 1.32 ERA.
But afterward he still felt he was putting his season-opening struggles behind him. He went 0-1 with a 4.84 ERA in his first six starts.
Masterson came in with a 4-1 record and 2.79 ERA against the Blue Jays in 15 career games. That included a 3-1 record and 2.83 ERA while with the Indians.
The Jays got to Masterson in the fourth, when Jose Reyes tripled to the wall in left-center field and Cabrera brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Blue Jays took the lead in the fifth on Francisco’s home run to right field. The Jays have homered in 18 of their last 21 games since April 22. Brett Lawrie followed Francisco’s blast with an infield single and Josh Thole walked before Masterson regrouped and got out of the inning.
But the sixth was a mess from the start. Masterson walked leadoff man Cabrera, and Jose Bautista singled to third. Adam Lind smacked a two-run double to left, prompting a visit to the mound. Masterson struck out Edwin Encarnacion, but Francisco doubled down the right-field line, a sharply hit ball first baseman Nick Swisher tried to backhand, for another run.
Lawrie walked to chase Masterson, with Josh Outman getting the final two outs.
Until the seventh, the Indians mustered little offense against Dickey (4-3, 4.53). He’s definitely on the upswing, winning four of his last five starts, a string that began against the Baltimore Orioles on April 22.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the third with two outs when Mike Aviles singled to center, Michael Bourn walked and Swisher singled to right.
Trailing 5-1, they got back in the game with three runs in the seventh, but only two were earned after David Murphy reached on an error at second. One of the Indians’ runs came home when Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch.
The Blue Jays continued a roll that started April 27. Since then they are 9-7, have outhomered their opponents 24-10 and outscored them 93-70.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Toronto
WHERE: Rogers Centre, Toronto
PITCHERS: Kluber (3-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. McGowan (2-1, 4.63)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM