TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays may have ended August on a losing note, but they’re far from concerned.
Danny Salazar outlasted David Price in a pitchers’ duel as the Cleveland Indians beat Toronto 4-2 on Monday night. The Blue Jays got runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth and kept it a very tight game until the final out.
“We never give up. It doesn’t matter how many we’re down or what inning it is, we always feel like we have a chance to win,” said Price. “That’s good, that’s huge. We had a chance there in the eighth to tie it up or go ahead and the same way in the ninth. As long as they’re doing that, it’s good to see.”
Toronto went 21-6 in August after acquiring Price, all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and others at the trade deadline, launching the Blue Jays to first place in the American League East.
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The New York Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Monday night, maintaining Toronto’s 1.5 game lead in the division.
Price (13-5) struck out nine over seven innings, allowing three earned runs as Toronto (74-57) ended a three-game win streak. Josh Donaldson had a two-run triple and Edwin Encarnacion extended his hit streak to 26 games with two singles.
Donaldson, an MVP candidate in the American League, could have tied it up in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second, two outs and Toronto trailing 4-2. But, he struck out swinging to end the game.
“I’m always confident,” said Donaldson of coming to the plate with runners in scoring position. “I expect to come through in those situations for my team. It just so happened today I got a little over-excited on a couple pitches that he threw me.
“Hopefully I learn from that and I’ll be better for it tomorrow.”
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Brett Cecil came in from the bullpen for a scoreless eighth for Toronto before the Indians added a run in the ninth off LaTroy Hawkins.
Salazar (12-7) fanned 10 batters and allowed two runs over seven innings as Cleveland (64-66) won its sixth in a row and gained ground the AL’s wild card race. Bryan Shaw pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning, with Cody Allen earning his 28th save of the season.
Donaldson came to the plate in fifth with Ryan Goins and Ben Revere on first and second and the Blue Jays trailing 1-0. Chants of “M-V-P” rained down on the all-star third baseman as he worked Salazar to a full count.
Rogers Centre exploded with cheers as Donaldson stroked a triple to right field, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. Donaldson slid into third base hard, his helmet falling off as his momentum carried him back to his feet and the 46,643 in attendance gave him a loud standing ovation.
“These fans are incredible. They’re getting after it,” said Donaldson. “Today we came up a little bit short but we know we’re going to come back tomorrow even stronger.”
Encarnacion extended his hit streak with a single to shallow left field in the sixth inning. Shawn Green holds the record for longest Blue Jays hit streak, hitting in 28 consecutive games in 1999.
Raburn tied it for Cleveland in the seventh inning, driving in Carlos Santana with a triple off the right-field wall. The Indians then claimed a 3-2 lead when Jerry Sands singled to left field to bring home Raburn.
Toronto threatened to retake the lead in the eighth. Jose Bautista reached base on a single, Encarnacion pushed him to third with a base hit and then Cleveland intentionally walked Tulowitzki to load the bases.
Justin Smoak struck out swinging to end the inning.
An error by Donaldson in the ninth inning gave the Indians a 4-2 lead. Lonnie Chisenhall singled off Donaldson’s glove, with the Blue Jays third baseman scrambling to recover the ball. His throw back to third was above Hawkins’ reach. Third base umpire Clint Fagan awarded Yan Gomes home plate on the play.
Donaldson had a shot at redemption in the bottom of the ninth, with Kevin Pillar and Goins on first and second with two out. He struck out, ending the game.