TORONTO — A game of home run derby broke out Thursday at the Rogers Centre, and unfortunately for the Indians, they had the better batting-practice pitcher on the mound.
In what was a disastrous debut for Brett Myers, the right-hander served up four homers to pave the way for a 10-8 loss to the Blue Jays that deprived Cleveland of the season-opening sweep.
Right-hander Cody Allen also allowed a homer for the Indians, who belted two of their own — Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds — but it was Myers who set an early tone that Cleveland ultimately couldn’t change.
He offered up one of the worst outings in Indians history, becoming the only Cleveland starter ever to pitch at least five innings and allow seven runs and four homers without a single strikeout.
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“I couldn’t get the ball down,” said Myers, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract in the offseason to become the Indians’ third starter. “When you pitch up in the zone against guys of that caliber, it’s not going to be good.
Everything I threw was up and I couldn’t make the adjustment.
“When I was in the bullpen (before the start), it was fine, but when I got to the mound, everything changed.”
Myers, who endured a miserable spring training — 9.00 ERA, 36 hits in 21 innings — is no stranger to surrendering the long ball. He entered the start as one of the active leaders in homers allowed (137), with just three pitchers — Oliver Perez, Ted Lilly and Bruce Chen — owning a higher home run-per nine innings ratio than Myers’ 1.26.
After the Indians scored first in the opening inning, Myers allowed a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the bottom half. J.P. Arencibia hit a leadoff homer in the second before a three-run shot from Edwin Encarnacion put Toronto up 6-3 in the fifth inning.
The Indians matched the Jays’ output in the fifth, tying it on Lonnie Chisenhall’s two-run double. But with manager Terry Francona wanting to save the bullpen for the final three innings, he made the ill-fated decision to send Myers back out for the sixth.
The first batter, Arencibia, hit his second homer of the night to give Toronto the lead for good.
“I thought he elevated some pitches, and the ones that were elevated were a little flat,” Francona said of Myers, who equaled a career high with the four home runs allowed.
Cleveland’s offense was up to the challenge, scoring six times off Jays starter Mark Buehrle on seven hits over 5⅓ innings.
“And that’s not an easy guy (to face),” Francona said of Buehrle, a longtime ace for the White Sox. “We did a really good job. That’s a hard way to play, but if that’s how you have to play ... Sometimes that will happen.”
Facing multiple deficits, the Indians climbed back each time. They got to within a run in the eighth on consecutive doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis.
“The boys fought hard today,” designated hitter Nick Swisher said. “For us to be down big and then come back, and then get down again and come back again, that just goes to show you what this team’s about. That’s a good sign early in the season.”
Myers was appreciative of the support and placed the blame on himself.
“They picked me up a lot tonight, but I’ve got to do a better job of keeping the ball down and pitching,” he said. “The only person at fault here is me.”
The Indians, who have homered in each game, outhit Toronto 14-9.
Myers has lost his last six decisions on the road.