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Blue Jays drop 2nd straight as Guardians win behind Mercado's 8th-inning RBI single

Written by on May 8, 2022

Franmil Reyes lumbered home on Oscar Mercado’s tiebreaking, two-out single in the eighth inning and the Cleveland Guardians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Sunday.

Toronto took a 3-2 lead into the eighth, but Owen Miller’s one-out homer off Tim Mayza tied it. Mayza retired Jose Ramirez, but Miller drove a 2-2 pitch to the left field bleachers.

Adam Cimber (4-2) relieved with two outs and allowed Reyes’ single and Andres Gimenez’s walk. Mercado, who was hit on the left hand by a pitch in the third, lined a 2-2 offering to center, and the six-foot-five, 265-pound Reyes slid home ahead of the throw that was cut off.

“I just stuck with the fastball and he threw it in a spot where I was able to get a barrel on it,” Mercado said.

Miller has hit his way into the everyday lineup with a .352 average.

“I always know that that wall’s pretty big in left, but I definitely knew I hit that one pretty well,” he said. “I guess you never really know. But, yeah, being able to get it up there a little bit, I could feel like that one was gone.”

Bryan Shaw (1-0) pitched the eighth, and Emmanuel Clase worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save. Cleveland has won seven of nine after losing seven in a row.

George Springer’s sacrifice fly broke a 2-all tie in the seventh. Teoscar Hernandez’s bases-loaded single gave Toronto a 2-0 lead after four batters, but the Blue Jays didn’t score again until the seventh.

Cleveland tied it in the third on Ramirez’s RBI triple and Miller’s sacrifice fly.

Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah, who came into the game tied for the major league lead with four wins, gave up two runs and struck out three in five innings.

The six-foot-six, 285-pound Manoah kept Cleveland’s hitters from digging in at the plate. He drilled Mercado on the left hand with a 92 mph pitch in the third to load the bases. Mercado immediately removed his batting glove and walked toward Cleveland’s dugout. He met with manager Terry Francona and a team trainer before taking first base.

Manoah worked out of the one-out jam by striking out Austin Hedges and retiring Myles Straw on a ground ball.

Manoah hit Josh Naylor on the left foot with a breaking pitch that dived sharply in the dirt during the third. He also threw a pitch to Ramirez in the first that sailed to the backstop.

Grip issues

Manoah said he had a difficult time getting a proper grip on the baseballs, which he thought hadn’t been rubbed up properly before the game.

“They’re terrible,” he said. “Those balls were like they were right out of the box. Some were huge. Some were fluffy. They were all brand new white balls.”

Manoah didn’t blame his performance on the slippery baseballs, but he was frustrated.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” he said. “The balls are the balls. I have to go pitch.”

Cleveland rookie Konnor Pilkington, making his first major league start, allowed two runs and struck out six in 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game.

Pilkington made three scoreless relief appearances earlier this season. Springer’s towering fly ball to left hit off the 19 1/2 foot wall for a double. Bo Bichette walked before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. slapped a 1-2 pitch through the right side for a single that loaded the bases.

Toronto has lost five of seven.