TORONTO — Justin Smoak hit his team-leading 24th home run of the season as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians 6-2 on Sunday.
Teoscar Hernandez also had a homer for the Blue Jays (65-78). Hernandez came out of the dugout in the fourth inning after Randal Grichuk left the game due to injury.
“I saw him in the clubhouse between innings and before I came out here and he was grinning,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He was laughing a bit so that was a good sign. He’s a pretty boy, you don’t want to hurt that face.”
Grichuk left the game in the fourth inning when he collided with a security guard while trying to field a foul ball. Grichuk went face first into the guard’s stool and appeared to injure his nose. He was undergoing concussion protocol and received follow-up imaging to his face. Hernandez played in his place.
“I peeked at him and I saw him sliding, trying to make a play there so I peeled out. All of a sudden I heard him get clocked with a chair in the face,” said Smoak, who had a front row seat of incident. “Scary right there for a second but hopefully he’s all right.
Thomas Pannone (2-1) delivered a quality start for Toronto. He gave up two runs, four hits, two walks and two home runs over six and one-third innings.
“I got ahead of a lot of guys and my curveball was working really well. With my changeup I got a lot of weak contact on it. I just kept the lineup moving,” he said.
In two home starts, the Jays pitching prospect has a combined 1.35 earned run average and has surrendered just five hits and five walks while striking out five batters.
“He did a tremendous job, there’s got to be some sort of deception there I don’t know what it is,” Gibbons said of Pannone and his pitching.
Ken Giles (20) collected the save.
Francisco Lindor and Brandon Barnes had homers for Cleveland (81-62).
Mike Clevinger (11-8) was solid on the mound despite the lack of run support from his team. He gave up three runs, four hits, two walks and one home run. Clevinger struck out nine batters.
Smoak opened the scoring for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the first inning. He hit a two-run home run to right field which gave Toronto a 2-0 lead.
The Indians responded in the third inning. Lindor hit a solo shot to left field to cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1.
Later in the inning, Smoak would help restore Toronto’s two-run lead. He’d hit an RBI single which gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 advantage.
In the seventh inning, Brandon Barnes hit a solo homer to left field to cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2.
In the eighth inning, Toronto put the game out of reach when Hernandez hit a three-run homer to give the Blue Jays ahead 6-2. It was his 20th homer of the season.
NOTE: The Blue Jays activated Yangervis Solarte from the 10-day disabled list. The infielder suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain on Aug. 11. He started Sunday’s game at second base Billy McKinney hit a double in the eighth inning to extend his on-base streak to 18 games. He has reached base in every game he has recorded at least one at-bat since joining Toronto. Paid attendance was 31,184.
David Alter, The Canadian Press