TORONTO – The difference in Adam Lind right now from seasons past is his ability to quickly learn from his mistakes and make adjustments on the fly.
He did exactly that during the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon, guessing right on a 1-2 slider from reliever Tony Sipp and launching it into the second deck in right field for the key blow in an ugly 10-6 Toronto Blue Jays victory over the Cleveland Indians.
“I figured he was going to throw it because I faced him (Monday) night and he threw all fastballs, and then he made me look kind of stupid with his first pitch slider (Tuesday),” the 25-year-old said of his tiebreaking three-run blast. “After he came up in I figured he was going to try and go down and away with the slider.”
Lind’s sixth home run of the season preceded a Scott Rolen solo shot that capped a seven-run bottom of the seventh, which followed Cleveland’s four-run outburst in the top half of the frame.
The teams, back at it about 13 hours after a 9-7 Cleveland win Monday night, chewed through a combined seven relievers and 82 pitches during the wild seventh, which the Blue Jays went into leading 3-2 and emerged from up 10-6.
The blown lead cost Brett Cecil a chance to win his impressive big-league debut, but Brian Wolfe (1-0) got one out in the eighth and acting closer Scott Downs closed things out from there to ensure a successful end to a 4-1 homestand before a crowd of 22,005.
The Blue Jays (19-10) begin a five-game swing through California on Wednesday in Anaheim versus the Angels, and they need a big effort from ace Roy Halladay (5-1) in the opener against Anthony Ortega (0-1) with their bullpen running on fumes. Toronto relievers have thrown 26 1-3 innings over their past seven games and with Downs needing a day off Monday because of his workload, the Blue Jays blew a pair of leads, one with two outs in the ninth in that loss.
“We’ve had one day off and that was in April,” said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. “It’s getting where we need a day off so some guys can get some rest.”
Cecil did his part Tuesday by logging six strong innings and leaving in position to win the game. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed just two runs, one earned, and struck out six with no walks. More impressive, he showed no fear pitching inside, hitting three batters leaning too far over the plate.
“It didn’t bother him, I liked that,” said Gaston. “They probably weren’t picking up his slider very well. … That’s the sign of a good pitch.”
The touted prospect might have come apart in the second, when some poor defence helped the Indians (10-17) open up a 2-0 lead. But instead, he limited the damage to a Matt LaPorta run when Ben Francisco’s single went through Travis Snider’s legs in left field and all the way to the wall, and Francisco’s crossing when a potential inning-ending double play ball wasn’t turned.
He also brushed off a harsh stare from Kelly Shoppach in the fifth after the catcher was hit for the second time.
“If I hit a few guys that’s not going to change the plan,” said Cecil. “I made a couple guys mad today but that’s part of the game.
“It’s definitely a good thing to establish the inside part of the plate and you’ve got to keep them uncomfortable in there. If they’re comfortable, they’re going to tear you apart.”
That’s what his offence did to four Cleveland relievers, who each got rocked like a batting practice pitcher. After Rafael Perez allowed two runners to reach, Aaron Hill hit a two-run single off former teammate Vinnie Chulk (0-1) to make it a 6-5 game before Alex Rios singled home the tying run against Jensen Lewis. After Vernon Wells popped out, Lind smoked Sipp’s hanging slider to put the Blue Jays in front and Rolen followed with his third, the first back-to-back Toronto homers this season, to make it 10-6.
“Guys are just playing the right way right now and having fun doing it,” said Hill. “The bullpen has been doing a great job, they’re tired, we’ve thrown them out there quite a bit, but they don’t complain, they just want the ball.”
Lyle Overbay’s RBI double in the second cut Cleveland’s lead to 2-1 and it stayed that way until the sixth, when Lind’s two-run single gave the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. Lind leads the team with 29 RBIs and continues to be the club’s most dangerous hitter.
“I’m not the man on this team, there’re are a bunch of other guys who are the men,” said Lind, settling in after splitting the past three seasons between the majors and the minors. “I’m just a kid looking up and watching them play.”
The 3-2 lead was short-lived, as Frasor gave up a one-out single to Shoppach before lefty Jesse Carlson came on and promptly surrendered singles to Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera and Victor Martinez, the latter tying the game 3-3 with the first run charged to Frasor in 11 innings this season.
Cabrera put Cleveland ahead when he scored on a Carlson wild pitch and after the next two batters reached, Jhonny Peralta poked a two-run single to centre that made it 6-3. Peralta came into the game on an 0-for-13 run and a 4-for-49 rut but finished with three hits.
Notes: Snider came into the game mired in a 3-for-31 slide but singled in the sixth to end an 0-for-12 drought and finished 2-for-4. Gaston said the team plans to stick with him for the time being, although he’s backing off talking with the left-fielder during games. “He felt there was too much information coming at him,” said Gaston. “So we’re letting him go on his own right now.” Gaston added that he has more leeway to let Snider play through his struggles than he did with starter David Purcey, who was demoted last week. “When a guy is taxing the bullpen and not throwing strikes, that makes it difficult for guys playing defence, he’s affecting more than one person,” said Gaston. “With Snider, it’s just affecting one person.” … Canadian right-hander Scott Richmond was named the AL’s rookie of the month for April. The native of North Vancouver, B.C., went 3-0 with a 2.70 earned-run average in four starts.