TORONTO — After Corey Kluber beat Atlanta on Tuesday at Turner Field, he was asked about the Indians’ winning streak, a streak that would grow to 14 games.
Kluber said all the right things, but added it was important to remember that the Indians were going to lose a game sometime in the near future. Then he said the key would be how the Indians could use the momentum of the streak to continue to play good baseball.
Well, the Tribe’s franchise-setting winning streak ended Saturday in a 9-6 loss to Toronto. As for Sunday, well, let’s just say momentum has a big head start on Kluber and his teammates.
Toronto pounded Kluber and the Indians, 17-1, at Rogers Centre to split the four-game series. And always remember, what goes around comes around.
The Indians extended their winning streak to a franchise-record 14 games with a 19-inning victory Friday. The Blue Jays’ final two pitchers were position players Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney.
In Sunday’s loss, catcher Chris Gimenez pitched the last two innings for the Indians after entering the game in the sixth at third base.
Kluber (8-8, 3.79) was on fire coming into the start. He’d won four of his last five starts, but he had no answer for the Blue Jays.
Russell Martin hit a three-run homer in the first. Kluber allowed two more runs in the fourth before manager Terry Francona removed him and put the game in the bullpen’s hands.
Kluber allowed five runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four in his second shortest start of the season. He pitched 2 2/3 innings against Houston on May 9.
“All day it was just a fight for him,” said Francona. “That’s why I probably worry more about guys putting some stress on themselves. So we tried to get him out of there, because he had thrown a lot (of pitches) and they were all high-intensity, just because there were so many men on base.”
Kluber said he couldn’t make the ball go where he wanted it to go.
“I commanded the ball terribly,” he said. “It all starts with fastball command. I didn’t command it all day and that makes everything else tough to throw for strikes as well.”
Lefty J.A. Happ (11-3, 3.54) had his way with the Indians. He allowed one run in seven innings, striking out 11 and not walking a batter.
The Blue Jays put the game away by scoring eight runs in the sixth, their biggest inning of the season. Tom Gorzelanny absorbed most of the damage on the Indians’ side, allowing seven earned runs on four hits in 1/3 of inning.
After that Francona went to bullpen protect mode, which put Gimenez on the mound. He entered the game at third base in the sixth and moved to the mound in the seventh.
“I felt much more comfortable on the mound,” said Gimenez. “At third there was a ball hit and it was at me, but I didn’t even see it off the bat.”
Gimenez retired the Blue Jays in order in the seventh.
“I was throwing super changeups,” he said.
They were waiting for him in the eighth. Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion hit consecutive doubles. Russell Martinez singled home another run and Justin Smoak added a two-run homer.
“When there were two outs, I was think, ‘Can we just end this now,'” said Gimenez.
Gimenez allowed four runs on four hits in two innings. In 2014, he threw a scoreless inning against the Angels.
“There goes my 0.00 ERA,” said Gimenez.
PITCHf/x, which charts all MLB’s pitches, registered Gimenez’s 33 pitches as knuckleballs or changeups. Gimenez doesn’t throw a knuckler and said the changeups were fastballs.
“I was humping up on them, too,” said Gimenez, whose velocity ranged from 65 to 82 mph.
What it means
The Indians ended this 10-game trip with an 8-2 record. The 17 runs the Indians allowed were their most since allowing 17 against the Cubs last year on June 17.
The Tribe bullpen allowed 12 earned runs, the most since they allowed 13 against the A’s on July 10, 2004.
We scored one run?
The Indians scored their only run in the seventh when Yan Gomes singled home Carlos Santana with two out. Santana had two of the Tribe’s five hits.
Kluber threw 95 pitches, 53 (56 percent) for strikes. Happ threw 101 pitches, 65 (64 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Blue Jays drew 45,962 fans to Rogers Centre. It was Toronto’s 15th sellout. First pitch was at 1:08 p.m. with a temperature of 68 degrees. The roof was open.
The Indians open their final homestand before the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Tigers and a four-game visit from the Yankees.
Danny Salazar (10-3, 2.33) will face Detroit lefty Daniel Norris on Monday night in from of a sold-out crowd at Progressive Field. Salazar has won six straight decisions.