Published July 14, 2012
| Associated Press
TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays locked up Edwin Encarnacion by signing him to a new contract over the All-Star break. On Saturday, the surging slugger showed why it was money well spent.
Encarnacion hit two home runs, Yunel Escobar also went deep and the Blue Jays used an eight-run third inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 11-9.
"Just an outstanding offensive day," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Encarnacion and Escobar both hit two-run shots in Toronto's highest-scoring inning of the season. The Blue Jays had eight hits in the inning, six of them for extra bases.
Toronto's Adam Lind had a season-high four hits and matched a season-best by driving in four runs.
"The potential in this lineup is pretty formidable," Lind said.
Encarnacion, who did not speak to reporters after the game, passed up a potential free agent payday this offseason by signing a three-year, $29 million deal with Toronto the day after the All-Star game. The contract includes a team option for a fourth year that could push the total value to $37 million.
Encarnacion's next home run will match his career high, set with Cincinnati in 2008. His second homer Saturday was a 448-foot solo drive to left-center off Jeremy Accardo in the fifth, a drive that landed in the third-deck restaurant. It was his first multihomer game of the season and the eighth of his career.
"He always had a lot of power and this year he's taking advantage when pitchers fall behind in the count," Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez said. "If you make a mistake, he's making you pay for it."
Aaron Laffey (1-1) worked five innings for his first victory since Sept. 17, 2011, when he beat Toronto while pitching in relief for the New York Yankees. The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits, walked three and struck out four.
Casey Janssen got the final four outs for his 13th save in 14 chances.
Jimenez matched a career high by allowing eight earned runs and was chased after just 2 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
"Everything was wrong today," Jimenez said. "I couldn't get my pitches over the plate. I was falling behind in the count and then once I tried to get in, they took advantage of it. It was a really bad day."
Jimenez (8-8) allowed seven hits, including two homers and four doubles.
"Obviously, Ubaldo didn't have it today," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Shelley Duncan, Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman homered for the Indians. Down 10-2 early, Cleveland made it close with a five-run eighth before right fielder Jose Bautista made a nice catch with two on to end the inning.
"I liked the way we ended up making them bring the closer in in the eighth inning," Acta said. "The guys battled and had some good at bats late in the game. Unfortunately pitching is the name of the game and we just didn't pitch."
Lind got the Blue Jays started with a two-out, two-run double in the first. Cleveland answered with two in the second when Duncan was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Casey Kotchman grounded into a double play.
Bautista doubled to begin the Toronto third and Encarnacion followed with a homer to left. Lind singled and Escobar homered into the second deck in left.
J.P. Arencibia chased Jimenez with an RBI double and Brett Lawrie greeted reliever Scott Barnes with a first-pitch double to right. Four batters later, Lind capped the inning by grounding a two-run single.
Duncan started Cleveland's comeback effort with a two-run homer to left in the fourth that made it 10-4.
Trailing 11-4 after Encarnacion's second homer, the Indians fought back against Jesse Chavez in the eighth. Carlos Santana walked and Brantley followed with a two-run shot. Duncan singled and Kotchman chased Chavez by homering.
Rookie Drew Carpenter replaced Chavez and got two outs, then issued back-to-back walks to Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. Janssen came on to face pinch hitter Travis Hafner, who lined an RBI single.
Santana followed with a sinking liner, but Bautista ended the rally with a sliding catch, similar to the one he made to retire Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in Tuesday night's All-Star game.
NOTES: Toronto OF Rajai Davis threw out Kipnis at home plate for the final out of the fifth. ... Brantley had three hits, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... The Blue Jays optioned Chavez to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game and recalled RHP Chad Beck from Triple-A. ... Toronto's record for extra-base hits in an inning is seven, set Aug. 2, 2010 at New York. On that day, Encarnacion homered and the Blue Jays his six doubles in a seven-run fifth inning, beating the Yankees 8-6.