Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco throws to a Blue Jays batter during the first inning Friday in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO — Carlos Carrasco pitched a gem, and AL MVP contender Jose Ramirez came to the plate at the perfect moment.
And still the Cleveland Indians couldn’t turn it into a victory.
Kevin Pillar hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 11th after Ramirez grounded out with the bases loaded in the top of the inning, allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to beat the Indians 3-2 on Friday night.
Pillar’s second career walkoff home run came off right-hander Adam Cimber (3-6). It was Pillar’s 12th homer of the season.
The loss was Cimber’s first with Cleveland following a midseason trade from San Diego.
“I thought the slider was the right pitch there,” Cimber said. “Just didn’t execute it and he smacked it.”
The Blue Jays recorded their eighth walkoff win of the season, one more than they had last year. Toronto is 20-12 in one-run games.
Cleveland dropped to 2-7 in extra innings. The Indians’ magic number to clinch a third straight AL Central title remains at seven.
Carrasco matched a season best by striking out 14 over eight innings. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, and six hits.
After establishing his fastball, Carrasco relied on his slider and changeup to keep the Blue Jays swinging and missing. He struck out four straight over the first and second innings and fanned a pair in six of his eight innings.
“Even on 3-2, I was using my slider,” he said. “It was good.”
Just not good enough for the Indians to triumph.
“Anytime a guy pitches that well, you want to give him a win,” infielder Jason Kipnis said.
Toronto won for the first time in franchise history when striking out at least 20 times.
“There’s probably not a better slider in the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Carrasco. “He attacks. If he’s on, there’s going to be some walking back to the dugout.”
Yan Gomes hit a solo home run for the Indians.
Pillar had reached third base with two outs in the ninth, but Neil Ramirez sent the game to extra innings by getting Richard Urena to fly out.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the 11th, but Danny Barnes (3-2) relieved Jake Petricka and got Ramirez to ground out to second base.
Ramirez opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single off Marco Estrada in the fifth, but the Blue Jays scored in the bottom half when Rowdy Tellez doubled and scored on Aledmys Diaz’s sacrifice fly.
The Indians reclaimed the lead on a two-out homer by Gomes in the sixth, his 13th, but Toronto tied it again when Randal Grichuk and Tellez hit back-to-back doubles off Carrasco in the seventh.
Tellez has six doubles in his first three games, making him the first rookie since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to have six doubles over any three-game stretch in his debut season.
Toronto put runners at first and second with two outs in the eighth, but Carrasco ended his outing by getting Grichuk to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Estrada allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
Down on Wahoo
Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro spent more than two decades working for the Indians. He’ll “shed no tears” when the Chief Wahoo logo disappears from Indians uniforms next season.
The Indians are wearing grey road uniforms without the controversial logo on the left sleeve during their current four game series at Toronto.
During his time with the Indians, Shapiro played a lead role in establishing a block “C” as Cleveland’s logo. It replaced the cartoonish image of a big-toothed American Indian with a scarlet face and a single feather in his headdress.
“I never said it when I was in Cleveland, but I struggled with Chief Wahoo from the day I got there in 1992 to the day I left,” said Shapiro, who joined Toronto in November, 2015. “I was happy to see it consistently get diminished, and I will shed no tears when it’s gone completely.”
In January, the Indians announced plans to remove the logo from their uniforms next year. The move came after decades of protests and complaints that the grinning, red-faced caricature used in one version or another since 1947 is racist.
That decision not to wear the controversial logo in Toronto was partly driven by a failed legal challenge against the Indians when they played north of the border during the 2016 American League Championship Series. During the playoffs, a lawsuit was filed while the club was playing in Toronto to get the logo and team name banned from Canadian TV. A judge dismissed the case.
Cleveland will host the All-Star Game next season. The Indians will return to their regular uniforms when they visit Tampa Bay next week.
INDIANS: Third baseman Josh Donaldson (left calf) went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a playoff game for Double-A Akron.
** Outfielder Michael Brantley (left foot) sat for a second straight day.
** Left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller (left shoulder) will throw a side session today.
Indians right-hander Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.04) faces Blue Jays righty Sean Reid-Foley (1-2, 5.51) this afternoon. Plutko is winless in seven outings since a June 24 victory over Detroit. Reid-Foley allowed one run in seven innings to beat Miami for his first career win last Sunday, his third big league start.