TORONTO – Mike Clevinger dodged a fright at his first dough of the game to get another strong start for the up-and-coming Cleveland Indians.
Clevinger threw seven innings to win his third straight decision, Oscar Mercado homered and tripled, and Cleveland beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 Monday night to improve to 13-3 in July.
Francisco Lindor drove in two runs and Jason Kipnis had two hits, scoring twice for the Indians, who are one of the best 29-11 leagues in the world since June 4.
Clevinger (4-2) allowed three runs and five goals, his longest trip of the season. He went two and beat seven. The right-hander stands 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four July starts.
Clevinger said he felt “exceptionally good” against the Blue Jays, but admitted he was overtaxed and sometimes too busy.
“I was too excited where it is, “This could be a million miles an hour,” and now I’ve pulled it and it’s slower, and now it’s a home run,” he said. “This is what we need to reduce, just a kind of controlled intensity stay.”
Two rides on the injury list limited Clevinger to four starts in the first three months of the season. He went with a 17.05 ERA in two June starts 0-2, separated by his second injured stint, but was brilliant in July.
“After returning from that injury, he needed about a start to get his legs under him, but he’s been incredible ever since,” Mercado said. “He’s such a rival. It’s fun to watch him pitch.”
Clevinger received an unwelcome jolt in the first when Blue Jay’s leadoff dough Eric Sogard summed up the head of the Cleveland Pitcher with a base punch.
“Too close for comfort,” said Clevinger. “It was probably faster back to me than I threw it at him. I didn’t react until it was in the middle.”
Tyler Clippard ended with two perfect innings. Kipnis ended the game with a spectacular jump catch on second base on Cavan Biggios liner in the flat right field.
Indian manager Terry Francona paid tribute to Kipnis’ efforts in the final game.
“I know it’s a fourfold lead, but we’re trying to keep our hands out of the game,” said Francona. “That has played a big part in that.”
Cleveland is 5-0 against Toronto this season.
Mercado scored an RBI triple ahead of Justin Shafer in the sixth and led the eighth with a homer against Sam Gaviglio, his eighth.
Blue Jay’s left-hander Ryan Borucki (0-1) made his first start to the season after being put offside with a sore elbow and allowed four runs, two deserved and seven goals in 4 2/3 innings. He went four and knocked out three.
“A little rusty, had a lot of adrenaline out on the first day,” Borucki said. “Just something to build on for my next start. A good starting point for me”.
Cleveland opened the scoring in the second lap after a replay review showed that Blue Jay’s shortstop Freddy Galvis had missed the bag in a force play on second base. Lindor had Toronto pay two outs with a two-run single.
“We took advantage of it,” Francona said. “Good teams do that.”
Justin Smoak responded in the lower half with a solo home run, his 16th, but the Indians got another two-time RBI in the third run when Jose Ramirez doubled and scored on a Kipnis base goal.
Cleveland’s Roberto Perez beat an RBI double in the fifth, but Toronto’s Billy McKinney beat a two-run Homer in the lower half, his sixth, cutting the gap to 4-3.
The Indians wasted no time and extended their lead in the sixth run. Mercardo’s RBI triple jumped past a gliding McKinney on the right and Shafer on the left with a sore right elbow after loading the bases back-to-back. Tim Mayza came and gave up a sacrificial fly to Ramirez.
Shafer grinned after throwing his last pitch and left the hill with a coach after briefly talking to manager Charlie Montoyo.
Blue Jays: To open a roster for Borucki, the Blue Jays have put RHP Trent Thornton (right elbow) on the 10-day injury list. Thornton felt sore for the first time after a trip to Detroit on July 20. The newcomer has an 11.08 ERA over his last four starts.
STARTING TO ADD UP
Borucki was the 15th jug to start for the Blue Jays this season and set a team record. Toronto used 14 starters in each of the last two seasons.
KINGS OF THE ROAD
Cleveland has won seven street games.
SEVEN TO TOP
Clevinger also worked seven innings against the White Sox on April 1.