Cody Allen faced adversity for the first time in 2017 on Wednesday night.
With the bases-loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, the hard-throwing closer surrendered a walk-off single to Ryan Goins to hand the Indians an 8-7 loss to the Blue Jays in the series rubber match at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. The defeat was Allen's first of the campaign as his last loss came on August 17, 2016 vs. the Chicago White Sox.
Danny Salazar and Dan Otero could not keep a four-run lead intact while the Tribe went into an offensive lull and batted .190 (4-for-21) after the fourth inning to finish the nine-game road trip with a 4-5 record.
Salazar’s first-inning woes continue
A number of pitches out over the middle of the plate paved way to three runs on two hits off Salazar in the first, one of which was a three-run homer off the bat of Jose Bautista.
"I think a lot of it is command," said manager Terry Francona to reporters. "When you're not throwing it where you want to - or if [you have] deep counts - you got a chance to maybe not just give up hits, but give up damage."
Salazar settled down for a scoreless second, but his location mistakes knocked him out of the game in the next frame courtesy of a Steve Pearce sacrifice fly and Goins RBI single.
"I felt like balls were cutting that he wasn't trying to cut," Francona said. "He's scattering just his fastball."
Eleven of Salazar’s 21 earned runs allowed this year have come in the first inning.
Seesaw game of early, high-powered offense
Five crooked numbers were hung on the scoreboard as the two teams exchanged blows before the home nine pulled ahead in the ninth.
Jason Kipnis commenced the barrage with a two-run double to plate Carlos Santana (walk) and Francisco Lindor (single) against Francisco Liriano in the first inning.
"He's one of the best I've ever seen in that situation where it's first and second," said Francona. "He took two good swings both times.
Francona was alluding to when the trio nearly produced an identical result in the third inning with a walk, single and RBI single respectively to eventually set the stage for Jose Ramirez’s bases-loaded single and Brandon Guyer’s three-run double. The five-run outburst was the largest of the road trip and gave Cleveland a 7-3 advantage.
Toronto responded with a pair of two-spots, including Ezequiel Carrera’s two-run blast off Otero to even the tally at 7-7.
After five innings of shutdown pitching between both bullpens, the Blue Jays made something out of nothing by loading the bases on a bloop single and two walks against the laboring Allen.
Goins furthered the two-out rally and ended the contest with a game-winning single on a first-pitch fastball at the letters.
Both of Goins’ walkoff base knocks have come opposite the Tribe over the course of his two years of major league service time.
Almonte and Gomes depart
A pair of injuries to Abraham Almonte (right shoulder strain) and Yan Gomes (illness) put the Indians in a shorthanded situation with only Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley (right ankle sprain) available off the bench.
"Abe strained his shoulder on the swing," Francona said. "He's day-to-day. I don't think it's anything worse than that. Gomer just ate something before the game."
Central Division update
The Royals (12-21) fell 12-1 to the Rays while the White Sox (15-16) and Twins (16-14) were postponed due to inclement weather.
Cleveland will take the day off before opening a six-game homestand against the Twins on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET from Progressive Field.
RHP Josh Tomlin (2-3, 7.12) will look to build upon his seven innings of one-run ball this past Saturday after posting an 8.87 ERA in the month of April.
RHP Ervin Santana (5-1, 1.72) is quite the opposite in that he will be aiming to bounce back from a six-run debacle on Sunday against Boston.