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.
The Blue Jays maintained their one-half game lead over Boston in the AL East, 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 to 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. 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 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. 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 year.
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 Blue 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."
Toronto went 3-3 on its six-game road trip.
Home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus called time while Encarnacion was batting in the seventh. Clevinger stepped off the rubber and was called for a balk by third base umpire Greg Gibson after time was given, and Ryan Goins trotted home from third. After a lengthy discussion, Goins was sent back to third and Clevinger struck out Encarnacion on the next pitch. "I don’t think anybody knows what went on," Gibbons said. Indians manager Terry Francona explained, "They called a balk, but thank goodness there was a timeout. I just wanted to find out why he called it." Gibbons didn’t think the sequence cost his team the game. "You can’t pick at that type of stuff," he said.
Blue Jays: OF Kevin Pillar (jammed left thumb) went 4 for 5 with two RBIs at Lakeland in the first game of his rehab assignment with Single-A Dunedin. He could rejoin the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey opens a three-game home series against the Angels on Tuesday. Dickey has made a team-high 25 starts.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who has a 1.97 ERA on the road, pitches at Oakland in the first game of a three-game series Monday.