The Toronto Blue Jays will attempt to bounce back, as they begin a three-game set against Cleveland with the struggling Justin Masterson on the mound for the Indians.
The Blue Jays lost both installments of their double-header with the Twins on Thursday, falling 7-0 in the early game before suffering a 9-5 setback in the second matchup. Toronto went into the eighth inning of the second half of the doubleheader holding a 5-3 advantage, but the Twins responded with a six-run surge in the bottom part of the inning that put the game out of reach.
Toronto's bullpen had been one of its major strengths this season, however three relievers combined to walk a franchise-record eight batters and throw three wild pitches in the costly eighth inning on Thursday.
"We just couldn't throw strikes, we didn't pitch very good all series," manager John Gibbons said after the game. "It's cold, OK, but you know what? It's cold for both sides, and if you're ever going to get to October in the playoffs, it's going to be cold. We didn't pitch very well. We were in a position to win that one and we coughed it up."
Jose Bautista belted a solo shot and scored twice for the Blue Jays, who went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Bautista is pacing the club with six homers, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored, while Melky Cabrera is batting a team-best .301. Toronto's poor performance pit it two games back of the AL East-leading Yankees.
The Blue Jays will look to bounce back with right-hander Drew Hutchison on the hill. Although he held the Orioles scoreless for six innings in his last appearance, Hutchison took a no-decision due to a lack of run support.
He will face Masterson, who was expecting to be Cleveland's ace once again after recording a team-high 14 wins during a 2013 run to the playoffs. However, 2014 has been a different story for Masterson and the Indians, who rank 25th in the MLB in ERA (4.35) and 22nd in quality starts with six. Masterson was lucky to avoid a losing decision in his last appearance as he surrendered six runs (five earned) while walking five in just 4 2/3 innings of work versus the White Sox.
Masterson seems to believe its only a matter of time before Cleveland's starting staff gets back on track.
"We just haven't been able to get deep into the ballgame," Masterson said. "I think we've all had glimpses of great things, and then we've kind of gotten unraveled ever so slightly as we've gone along. Again, and you look at it, too, been some tough breaks for other guys. You look at certain plays that go this way or that way and it could be a lot different story."
The Tribe were defeated, 7-5, by Detroit on Thursday to conclude their seven- game road swing. Cleveland's offense was impressive in the setback. Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer and added a two-run single, while Lonnie Chisenhall went 4-for-4 and David Murphy knocked in Cleveland's other run.
Chisenhall raised his average to .522 after 23 at-bats in the loss. Jason Kipnis was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes with the bases loaded for the final out of the third inning.
The five Cleveland batters who have faced the 23-year old Hutchison in the past have gone a combined 8-for-13 with one walk against him. The Indians are 3-3 in six games at Progressive Field in 2014.