House, Indians falter again in 5-1 loss
CLEVELAND (AP) -- If there's one team that is extremely thrilled to see the calendar turn to May, it's the Cleveland Indians.
Predicted to contend for a playoff spot, the Indians concluded a disappointing April with a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Cleveland (7-14) is tied with Texas for the worst record in the American League and trails Kansas City by 7 1/2 games in the Central Division.
Slow starts in April are nothing new to the Indians. Cleveland went 11-13 in 2013, but qualified for the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Indians were 11-17 last April and missed the playoffs by three games.
The Indians have gone 18-12 and 15-13 in May the last two seasons, giving some hope they can turn things around.
"If you play good baseball it will take care of itself," manager Terry Francona said. "We've done it before. If you talk about winning nine out of 10 it makes me nervous. We have to go and play a good game the next time and keep it in smaller segments. It makes it a little easier to handle."
TJ House cruised through the first three innings, not allowing a hit while walking two. But the left-hander but couldn't retire a batter in the fourth when the first five hitters reached base and scored.
Jose Bautista drew a leadoff walk and Edwin Encarnacion singled before the next three hitters drove in runs to chase House.
Danny Valencia's RBI single and Russell Martin's run-scoring double gave Toronto the lead before Kevin Pillar doubled in two more runs, ending the night for House. Jonathan Diaz's squeeze bunt scored the fifth run.
House has made it to the fifth inning in only one of his four starts and is 0-4 with a 14.15 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting .362 against him.
"They made an adjustment and I definitely didn't make one fast enough to keep them off balance a little bit," House said. "They did what they did. I just reacted a little too slow."
Cleveland got its lone run in the fifth when Michael Brantley's single off Jeff Francis (1-0) scored Mike Aviles, who got on with a double.
The Indians had the bases loaded and one out in the second against rookie left-hander Daniel Norris but couldn't get anything across. On a 3-1 count, Michael Bourn popped out to second baseman Devon Travis and Jason Kipnis ended the inning with a fly ball to left fielder Dalton Pompey.
Cleveland had 11 hits but left 10 runners on base. They are 1-9 when scoring three or fewer runs.
Indians' DH Ryan Raburn had his first three-hit game since Sept. 12, 2013 against the White Sox. Raburn, who was 3-for-4, is batting .371 after hitting .200 last season.
Blue Jays: Manager John Gibbons said Bautista, who is dealing with a sore right shoulder, might play catch this weekend. Bautista hasn't played right field since April 21 and was the DH for the fourth straight game Thursday.
Indians: OF Nick Swisher (double knee surgery) will play at Triple-A Columbus on Friday and Saturday as he continues his rehab assignment. He could rejoin the Indians next week.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle, who was roughed up for five runs and 13 hits in 5 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday, will make his 49th career start against the Indians on Friday.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits Sunday against Detroit, will make his first appearance at Progressive Field since being hit in the face by Melky Cabrera's line drive on April 14.