CLEVELAND—Marcus Stroman wanted to stay in the game after throwing his 100th pitch.
Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons didn’t agree—and paid dearly for it.
Brett Cecil gave up a two-run homer to Jose Ramirez with two out in the eighth inning, allowing the Cleveland Indians to beat Toronto 3-2 in their series finale yesterday afternoon.
The Jays maintained their one-half game lead in the AL East over Boston, who fell 10-5 to Detroit yesterday, but lost twice in their three-game showdown with AL Central-leading Cleveland.
Stroman worked 7 1/3 innings, striking out nine, and left with the bases empty and a 2-1 lead.
Cecil entered and gave up a single to Francisco Lindor, followed by Ramirez’s 384-foot shot onto the home-run porch in left.
“I worked extremely hard to get my body ready to go seven-nine innings,” the right-hander said flatly.
“I felt good but at the end of the day, we lost the game.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he added. “I felt fine. I felt fine.”
Cecil (1-7) exited the clubhouse and boarded the team bus without speaking to the media.
The left-hander has allowed five homers in 26 1/3 innings and now has a 5.13 ERA.
Gibbons was eager to explain why he removed Stroman, who has thrown more than 100 pitches eight times this season and has a 9-5 record.
“I thought Stroman was great; he did everything right today,” Gibbons said.
“I just figured with [lefty Jason] Kipnis coming up, we could use it to our advantage and also swing their next couple of guys around at the plate,” he added.
“They got the best of us.”
Melvin Upton Jr. led off the third by homering off Indians’ starter Corey Kluber.
It was his third home run since being acquired from San Diego and his 19th on the season.
AL MVP Josh Donaldson, who missed the previous two games with a jammed right thumb, extended Toronto’s lead to 2-0 later in the inning with an RBI single.
Mike Clevinger (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win while Cody Allen worked the ninth for his 24th save.
Allen walked Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion with two out before inducing a game-ending lineout by Russell Martin.
The series had a post-season-like atmosphere with thousands of Jays’ fans at Progressive Field.
All three games were decided by one run.
“Shout out to Canada for coming down and supporting us this weekend,” Stroman said.
“The Indians are a team we’re going to be battling with down the road, so hopefully we’ll see them in the playoffs,” he added.
Toronto went 3-3 on its six-game road trip.
The team is off today before hosting the L.A. Angels for a three-game set.
R.A. Dickey, who has made a team-high 25 starts, will pitch the opener.
Elsewhere in the AL, Kansas City edged Minnesota 2-1, Houston beat Baltimore 5-3, Tampa Bay downed Texas 8-4, Chicago doubled Oakland 4-2, and L.A. blanked New York 2-0.
Over in the NL, Atlanta topped Washington 7-6 (10 innings), L.A. downed Cincinnati 4-0, Miami nipped Pittsburgh 3-2, St. Louis blanked Philadelphia 9-0, Colorado bombed Chicago 11-4, San Diego dumped Arizona 9-1, and New York upended San Francisco 2-0.
Milwaukee edged Seattle 7-6 in interleague play.