June 29, 2016

Mostly sunny

Blue Jays 5, Indians 1: Tribe gets two hits in series-opening loss

CLEVELAND – Mitch Talbot’s Cinderella story hit a snag, while his counterpart’s – Toronto’s Brett Cecil – is alive and well.

The pair of unheralded pitchers banged heads Monday night at Progressive Field, with Cecil and his Blue Jays emerging unscathed, while Talbot and the Indians were left battered and bruised in a 5-1 loss.  

Cecil, who was making only his third start of the season after being promoted from the minors, allowed a run on just one hit, striking out a career-high 10 batters over eight innings.

Talbot, who is a candidate for American League rookie of the month honors after winning three of his four starts in April, allowed five runs on eight hits (three home runs) over eight innings.  

“Despite our struggles offensively, I can’t take anything away from Cecil,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, whose club produced just two hits on the night. “He threw a tremendous ballgame. He attacked out hitters with his fastball and had a great change-up.

“The night belonged to Cecil.”

And what a night it was for the 23-year-old left-hander, who made 17 starts for the Jays last year, but failed to make the big league rotation out of spring training.

He was in pursuit of perfection, retiring 19 straight hitters before a one-out walk on five pitches to Grady Sizemore in the seventh ruined the bid.

Cecil walked the next batter, Shin-Soo Choo, before striking out Austin Kearns and then losing the no-hitter and shutout when Jhonny Peralta followed with a line drive single to left to score Sizemore.

Prior to Peralta’s single, the closest thing Cleveland got to a hit was when Matt LaPorta lined out to third base in the third.

A top-shelf change-up was at the root of Cecil’s success, according to Indians hitters — if you could call them that on this night.

“He was really good tonight,” Choo said. “In hitter’s counts, he had a really good change-up, and he spotted his fastball really good.”

Oddly enough, Cecil said he awoke with a head cold.

“Baseball-wise, it was a good night, just awesome,” he said. “I wasn’t nervous, but people that tell you they don’t know they have a game going are lying. I knew in the fifth inning, but I didn’t want to think about it too much.”

Talbot, who suffered his first loss since his season debut, allowed four of his runs within the first four innings – the first two coming on a homer from Jose Bautista in the second.

The left-hander shut Toronto out on one hit over the next four innings before allowing a lead-off homer to John Buck in the ninth and getting removed.

“He was hurt early by that two-run homer,” Acta said. “But he gave us a shot and almost got a complete game.”

Of their five runs, four came courtesy of long balls from the Blue Jays, who entered the game tied for the major league-lead in the category with 38.

“I couldn’t keep the ball in the yard,” Talbot said, “too many pitches over the plate, and they made me pay.”

With the way Cecil was pitching, Talbot knew he had to be close to perfect to keep his team in the game.

“It’s something that’s out of my control,” Talbot said. “But sometimes, it felt like I just sat down and I was getting back up again.”

If Cecil had made history, it would have come in front of the second-smallest crowd of the season at Progressive Field, the Indians drawing 10,117 fans.


Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.