TORONTO: Maybe Brett Myers’ lousy spring-training numbers are something to worry about. Myers limped through five innings plus one batter in the sixth Thursday night, as the Indians lost their first game of the season, 10-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Thanks to a barrage of hits, the Tribe attack obscured Myers’ poor workmanship but not much. Myers gave up seven runs on six hits, including four home runs. In fact all the runs scored off him came by way of the longball.
“I thought he elevated some of his pitches, and the ones that were elevated were a little flat,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Myers came to the same conclusion.
“I couldn’t get the ball down tonight,” he said. “When you’re up in the zone to those guys, it’s not going to be good. Everything I threw was belt high, or I’d bounce it.
“I got the ball down in the bullpen, but I got on the field and it was a different story. I worked my tail off to get the ball down, and I just couldn’t do it.”
Jose Bautista foreshadowed the direction of Myers’ fortunes by hitting a two-run blast in the first inning. J.P. Arencibia led off the second with a homer, and after pitching two scoreless innings, Myers gave up a three-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth.
The next batter, Adam Lind, only hit the ball to the track in center for the last out of the inning. But when Arencibia went deep again to lead off the sixth, Francona was forced to go to his bullpen three outs early.
“Brett had a five- and nine-pitch inning,” Francona said, explaining why he tried to get Myers through the sixth. “That and the best way to ruin a season is to ruin the bullpen.”
In the first two games, Tribe relievers worked eight innings.
Four home runs allowed in five innings is not a ratio that the Tribe can live with, but maybe that won’t be an issue. Maybe Myers will keep the ball in the yard in his next start.
However, it’s difficult to dismiss his spring-training numbers in light of Thursday night’s start: 21 innings, 36 hits, three homers, eight walks and a 9.00 ERA in six outings.
After a shaky appearance in the midst of spring exhibition season, Francona was asked if he was concerned about Myers and said, “I won’t start worrying about him until July.”
Right now, Francona is bent on seeing the bright side.
“We saw flashes this spring, when his breaking ball was sharp,” he said. “But that’s a dangerous lineup. We saw flashes of what they can do. Fortunately in the first two games, we didn’t see it.”
As usual, Mark Buehrle was undone by the Indians. Over the years, it hasn’t mattered much who is in the Tribe lineup, Buehrle has problems against whoever shows up at the plate. Coming into the game, Buehrle had a career record of 15-17 with a 4.77 ERA against the Indians.
Even when he has pitched well against the Tribe, Buehrle hasn’t had much luck. And Thursday night, he did not perform up to par.
Francona has not been around to see Buehrle’s history against the Tribe.
“That’s not an easy guy,” Francona said. “We did a really good job. It’s a hard way to play [coming from behind], but if you have to play that way, that’s what you do.”
Buehrle lasted 5 ⅓ innings and gave up seven runs on six hits and a walk.
Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds hit back-to-back solo homers off him in the fourth, and Buehrle gave up three runs in the sixth on Santana’s run-scoring double plus a crucial (at the time) double by Lonnie Chisenhall that scored two runs to tie the score 6-6.
Santana had three hits for the game, including a double, and drove in two runs. Reynolds also had two RBI, one coming on a seventh-inning single.
As upbeat as ever, Nick Swisher said, “For us to get down early and come back, and come back again, that shows you what this team is about.”
For all of Myers’ bad pitching, the Jays led only 7-6 when he left, but the bullpen couldn’t stop the bleeding and an error by Reynolds at first gave Toronto an extra run in the sixth inning.
Cody Allen, making his first appearance of the season, replaced Myers and gave up two runs in the sixth, one being unearned because of Reynolds’ error. Matt Albers allowed the final run in the eighth.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.