Encarnacion homers in teammate’s debut
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion are back together again and got a chance to celebrate a home run like old times in Toronto.
Donaldson went hitless in his Cleveland debut, Encarnacion reached 30 homers for the seventh straight season and the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Donaldson was on-deck when Encarnacion went deep and the pair exchanged a high-five afterward.
“We try and have fun out there,” Encarnacion said. “It’s good to have him back in the same lineup together.”
Cleveland lowered its magic number to three for a third straight AL Central title. Second-place Minnesota was hosting the New York Yankees.
Acquired from Toronto on Aug. 31, Donaldson went 0 for 4 in his first big league game since May 28, a layoff caused by a strained left calf. The 2015 AL MVP flied out to deep center and deep right, struck out and grounded into a forceout. The third baseman made a nifty backhand grab on C.J. Cron’s sixth-inning grounder.
“He looked to me like Donaldson,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He took some ferocious swings, and he was on so many pitches. He squared up a couple and had nothing to show for it. He’s got time and it gets exciting.”
Jose Ramirez moved from third to second, and second baseman Jason Kipnis moved to center.
Yan Gomes also homered and rookie Shane Bieber (10-3) struck out a career-high 11 in 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three walks.
Tampa Bay had its franchise record 12-game home winning streak end and lost for just the fourth time in 21 games overall.
The Rays dropped to 8 ¢ games behind Oakland for the second AL wild card with 18 games remaining. The teams will meet in a three-game series this weekend.
“The odds are against us but I’m very excited,” Rays ace Blake Snell said. “This team is special.”
Gomes homered in the fifth and Encarnacion in the sixth against Tyler Glasnow (0-4), who allowed six hits in seven innings.
Encarnacion, Ramirez (37) and Francisco Lindor (34) are the fifth trio of Indians to reach 30 homers in the same season.
“It’s unbelievable, something I never expected to happen,” Encarnacion said of his streak. “I’m proud of what I’ve been doing.”
Bieber allowed three hits and three walks. Brad Hand relieved with two on and two outs in the seventh, walked pinch-hitter Matt Duffy, then fell behind Mallex Smith 3-0 before getting him to pop out on a full-count pitch.
“That was rough for about eight pitches but he fights his way back,” Francona said.
Cody Allen pitched a one-hit ninth, completing a four-hitter for his 27th save in 32 chances.
Tampa Bay’s Tommy Pham singled in the first and has a career-best 15-game hitting streak.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was ejected in the eighth for arguing a balk called on Vidal Nuno.
SETTING UP THE ACE
The Indians will skip 18-game winner Corey Kluber’s start this weekend to give him a couple extra days off to get lined up for the playoffs.
Bieber is 6-0 in 10 road starts. … Cleveland pitchers have 29 strikeouts, including 13 Tuesday, through the first two games of the series.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula stress fracture) is to throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday. … RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow surgery) made 27 pitches over two-thirds of an inning for Double-A Akron against New Hampshire in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier (illness) was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game but was in the on-deck circle when the game ended. … RHP Jose Mujica had Tommy John surgery.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-8) starts Wednesday.
Rays: Snell (18-5) seeks to take over the big league lead in wins after going 5-7 last season. “It’s amazing how much better he’s gotten in one year,” Francona said.