The Cleveland Indians have reached the All-Star Break in good position. But it’s in what seems to be unfamiliar territory for the Indians after a 7-1 loss to visiting Toronto. The loss to the Blue Jays combined with Detroit taking a 2-1 decision at Kansas City left the Tribe 1/2 game behind the Tigers until regular season play continues next Thursday.
After a thrilling 5-run, ninth inning rally on Thursday to take a 5-4 decision from the Blue Jays on a game winning grand slam home run from Travis Hafner, the Indians dropped three straight to Toronto to hit the break at 47-42.
The Tigers, who don’t meet the Indians again until coming to Cleveland for three games Aug. 9-10-11, won three of four from the Royals to improve to 49-43 and slip past the Tribe into the top spot in the American League Central Division behind Justin Verlander, who is 12-4 with the win.
Cleveland has held onto first place the majority of the first half of the season. The Tribe moved into first place April 7 with a 1-0 win over Boston and held on to first or a share of first all but two days since that time and held a 7-game lead as late as May 23 with a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.
Back in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, the Blue Jays ran out to a 5-0 lead in the third against Carlos Carrasco, who surrendered a 2-run homer to Eric Thames.
Jose Baustia followed with a single but Carrasco got the next two Jays on ground outs only to walk Travis Snider to keep the inning alive. J.P. Arencibia then delivered an RBI single and Corey Patterson brought home two more with a double.
Carrasco (8-6) only went 3.0 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and four strike outs in losing his second consercutive start. He lost a 9-2 decision on July 5 to the New York Yankees.
The Blue Jay lead grew to 7-0 when Rafael Perez allowed a two-out, two-run double to Bautista, who hit his 30th and 31st home runs the night before to lead Toronto to a 5-4 win in 10 innings.
Cleveland had a tremendous opportunity to strike early but left the bases loaded without scoring in the first off Brett Cecil, who came into the game with a 6.37 ERA.
Michael Brantley led off with a walk but Orlando Cabera, attempting to sacrifice, popped out to Cecil, who then walked Travis Hafner before loading the bases with a single to Carlos Santana, It started a wasted effort from Santana, who was 2-for-3 and walked twice on the day without scoring.
Cecil (2-4) got Grady Sizemore to pop out to tird base and induced Austin Kearns into a ground out to second to end the inning.
The Indians go their only run of the day in the sixth when Jack Hannahan singled home a run with two outs after Sizemore led off by reaching on an error by Jays first baseman Adam Lind and Kearns followed with a single. Cecil got Lou Marson to pop to second and Luis Valbuena to fly to right before Hannahan broke up the shutout with his RBI single.
Cecil avoided further trouble by getting Michael Brantley on a grounder to short.
Cleveland returns to regular season play Thursday to begin a 4-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore. The Tribe swept a 3-game series in April over the Orioles in Cleveland. The Tribe is 19-3 against teams that finished last in their division in 2010. That includes Baltimore, which was last in the AL East last season.
The Indians are 28-39 against all other opponents this season.