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Blue Jays' Superman, Kevin Pillar, decks Indians with amazing catch

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    Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez reacts after striking out in the eighth inning Monday agaisnt the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Indians lost 4-2.

    NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS VIA AP

TORONTO — Kevin Pillar is nicknamed Superman because of his penchant for all-out diving catches in the outfield.

So it hardly seems fair that one of the best catches he’s ever made came at the expense of Cleveland, the birthplace of the creators of The Man of Steel.

Marcus Stroman pitched six shutout innings, Pillar made a sensational grab and the Toronto Blue Jays topped the Indians 4-2 on Monday night.

Pillar made the defensive play of the game — perhaps the season — in the sixth, diving on the warning track in center to catch a deep drive by Jose Ramirez and strand runners at second and third.

“Unbelievable,” Toronto’s Ryan Goins said. “One of the best catches I’ve ever seen him make.”

Indians manager Terry Francona called it “a game-changing play.”

“That was one of the better plays I’ve seen in a long time,” Francona said. “That’s hard, to dive going back, and that’s what he did.”

Perhaps no one was more grateful than Stroman (3-2), who shared a celebratory jump with Pillar as the Blue Jays left the field.

“Give that guy a Gold Glove,” Stroman said. “I think he’s the best defensive center fielder in the game.”

The remarkable grab was one of several plays that helped Stroman escape jams. Toronto turned inning-ending double plays in the second, fourth and fifth.

“I just went out there to make a play,” said Pillar, who spoke to the media following the game wearing a Superman knit cap and a Blue Jays shirt with the Superman logo on it. “We’re playing short-handed right now and wins are tough to come by. We’re just trying to go out there and play hard.”

Already without regulars Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto put catcher Russell Martin on the 10-day disabled list before the game because of nerve irritation in his left shoulder.

No problem.

Goins hit a two-run homer and Justin Smoak added a two-run single as the Blue Jays beat the team that eliminated them from last year’s AL Championship Series.

Former Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who signed a $60 million, three-year contract with Cleveland last winter, received a warm welcome in his return to Toronto. Fans cheered his name when the lineups were announced before the game, then roared in approval at a video tribute prior to the first pitch.

“It looked like he was touched,” Francona said. “I thought it was nice all the way around.”

Encarnacion got a standing ovation before his first at-bat, when he lined a first-pitch single off Stroman’s left foot. Encarnacion went 2-for-3 with a walk.

Stroman allowed six hits to win for the first time in three starts. He left his previous one after three innings because of tightness in his armpit.

“A good outing for him, considering the outing he was coming off,” manager John Gibbons said.

Goins’ homer, his third of the season, came off Trevor Bauer (2-4) and landed in the second deck in the second inning. Smoak’s single came in the third.

Cleveland cut the deficit in half in the eighth. Francisco Lindor hit an RBI single, and a second run scored when Lindor got caught in a rundown. Lindor was ruled safe when second baseman Devon Travis was called for interference. Gibbons came out to argue and was ejected.

Joe Smith escaped further damage by getting Jason Kipnis on a grounder and striking out Encarnacion and Ramirez.

Roberto Osuna finished for his fifth save.

Bauer gave up four runs in six innings. He threw a career-high 125 pitches.

“I hope, in his mind, this is something to build off of because I thought he did a lot of good stuff,” Francona said.

Slumping bats

Cleveland has scored three runs or fewer in seven straight games.

Trainer’s room

Indians: Cleveland recalled INF-OF Yandy Diaz from Triple-A Columbus and optioned RHP Shawn Armstrong to the same club. Diaz provides insurance while OF Michael Brantley recovers from a sprained right ankle sustained Sunday.

Blue Jays: To replace Martin, Toronto selected the contract of C Mike Ohlman from Triple-A Buffalo. Martin said his shoulder has been sore since spring training. The Blue Jays designated RHP Casey Lawrence for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for Ohlman.

Up next

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-2, 2.18 ERA) will make his 150th career appearance tonight. He is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in three road starts this season.

Blue Jays: RHP Mike Bolsinger will be promoted from Triple-A to start tonight. Bolsinger was 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA in four games at Buffalo, including two starts. He made six starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016.



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