On Sunday, a trade they made with their old team, helped Toronto beat the Indians, 6-2, and split a four-game series at Rogers Centre.
Last year the Indians needed bullpen help and talked to the Blue Jays. Toronto sent them Joe Smith for left-hander Thomas Pannone and infielder Samad Taylor at the July 31 non-waiver deadline. On Sunday, Pannone, making his third big-league start, pitched 6 1/3 innings to help beat his old team.
Pannone (2-1, 4.13) allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out two and walked three.
Mike Clevinger (11-8, 3.16) took the loss, but this one should be hung around the offense's neck. Except for home runs by Francisco Lindor and Brandon Barnes, they Indians conducted a clinic on what not do do again a soft-throwing left-hander.
The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead against Clevinger in the first on a two-run homer by Justin Smoak. Clevinger walked Lourdes Gurriel with one out before giving up Smoak's homer into the second deck in right on a 1-0 pitch. It was the 19th homer he's allowed this year.
Lindor made it a 2-1 game in the third with his 34th homer and third of the series. He homered twice in Thursday's 9-4 win, but Pannone frustrated the rest of the Tribe's lineup. In the fourth he walked Brandon Guyer and Yan Gomes with two out, but Barnes ended the inning with a fly ball to center.
By that time the Jays were leading 3-1 thanks to Smoak's well-placed single with two out in the third. Clevinger started the inning by walked catcher Reese McGuire. He stole second with one out as the infield shifted to the right against Smoak, who was batting left-handed. The shift moved Lindor from shortstop to behind first base, but Smoak singled through the empty hole at short to score McGuire.
Pannone kept getting the Indians out on soft ground balls and pop up until Barnes, making his first start since his promotion from Class AAA Columbus on Tuesday, homered just inside the left field foul pole in the seventh to make it 3-2.
Jose Ramirez stole his 30th base in the first inning to become just the third member of the Tribe's 30-30 club, but the rest of the day did not go well for the third baseman. He went 0-for-4 to continue his slump and was charged with an error in the ninth inning that was followed by Teoscar Hernandez's three-run homer that turned Toronto's 3-2 lead into a 6-2 advantage.
Ramirez is in a 13-for-79 (.165) skid.
Clevinger allowed three runs on four hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked three.
What it means
The Astros, scheduled to play Boston on Sunday night, have a commanding eight game lead over the Indians regarding which division leader will host the ALDS on Oct. 5. Houston has won seven straight games and could sweep the Red Sox at Fenway with a win on Sunday night.
Pannone threw 93 pitches, 60 (65 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 108 pitches, 69 (64 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Blue Jays drew 31, 184 to Rogers Centre on Sunday. First pitch was at 1:08 p.m. with a temperature of 67 degrees. The roof was closed.
The Indians open a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Monday night at Tropicana on Monday night. Corey Kluber (18-7, 2.75) will start for the Indians, but the Rays have not announced a starter. They could be going with an opener — a reliever who will pitch the first inning or so before bringing in a pitcher who is stretched out more. They used that strategy against the Indians on Sept. 2 for a 6-4 win at Progressive Field.
Kluber is coming off a win against Kansas City. He is the first Indians pitcher to win 18 games in three straight seasons since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry did from 1972 through 1974.