Grichuk leaves game after running full tilt into metal chair
Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak figured teammate Randal Grichuk never saw it coming.
Grichuk was injured in a bizarre collision with a security guard’s chair, and replacement Tesocar Hernandez hit a three-run homer as the Blue Jays beat the Cleveland Indians 6-2 on Sunday.
The Indians’ magic number to lock up their third straight AL Central title stayed at five.
Grichuk was being checked for a possible concussion after slamming face-first into the guard’s metal stool while chasing Brandon Guyer’s foul fly in the fourth inning.
As Grichuk and Smoak sprinted toward the ball, a security staffer seated along the wall stood up and backed away from the area, carrying his stool and seemingly unaware the outfielder was closing in. Grichuk slid and made the catch, but crashed into the stool the staffer was holding by his side.
“I peeked at him and I saw him sliding, trying to make a play there, so I peeled out,” Smoak said. “All of a sudden I heard him get clocked with a chair in the face. Scary right there for a second, but hopefully he’s all right.”
Grichuk stayed down for several minutes and was treated on the field by Blue Jays trainers. When he stood up to walk off, television images showed a long, swollen mark on his face, running across his nose and between his eyes.
Smoak said it’s difficult to be aware of obstacles, especially because Toronto’s domed roof makes it hard to look away from flyballs.
“We’re worried about each other and the ball at the same time,” Smoak said. “There’s no chance either of us was thinking about the security guard.”
Manager John Gibbons said he saw Grichuk in the clubhouse following the game.
“He was laughing a bit, so that was a good sign,” Gibbons said. “He’s a pretty boy, you don’t want to hurt that face.”
Hernandez entered the game when Grichuk exited, and homered in the eighth.
Smoak connected off Mike Clevinger (11-8) in the first, his team-leading 24th.
Francisco Lindor hit a solo homer off Thomas Pannone (2-1) in the third, his career-best 34th and third of the series. Smoak answered with a two-out RBI single in the bottom half.
Brandon Barnes chased Pannone with a one-out homer in the Cleveland seventh, his first since 2015. Ryan Tepera came on and struck out the next two batters.
Michael Brantley singled off left-hander Jose Fernandez to begin the eighth but righty Jake Petricka came on and struck out Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yandy Diaz.
David Paulino got two outs in the ninth but put two runners on before Ken Giles came on and got Lindor to ground out, earning his 20th save in as many opportunities.
Making his third career start in place of right-hander Marcus Stroman (blister), Pannone allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings against his former team.
A Double-A All-Star in the Indians organization last season, Pannone was dealt to Toronto for reliever Joe Smith on July 31, 2017.
“It was a great opportunity to go out there and face the team that traded me last season,” Pannone said. “It was definitely extra special.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said Pannone “took the sting out of our bats.”
“He doesn’t light up the radar gun,” Francona said, “It just seemed like he got past our barrels, had us reaching. A lot of popups.”
Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez stole second base in the first, becoming the third 30-homer, 30-steal player in Indians history. Joe Carter did it in 1987 and Grady Sizemore in 2008. Ramirez is the first 30-30 player in the big leagues since 2012, when Ryan Braun and Mike Trout both reached the mark.
ROWDY’S RUN ENDS
Blue Jays rookie Rowdy Tellez went 0 for 4, his first hitless game since making his debut last week. Tellez set a Blue Jays record Saturday, becoming the first player in team history with eight hits in his first four games.
HOME IS WHERE THE HOMERS ARE
The Blue Jays have 103 home runs at home, second in the AL to the Yankees (127).
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller (left shoulder) is expected to be activated off the 10-day disabled Monday.
Blue Jays: Hernandez went to left field after Grichuk’s injury, with Billy McKinney moving from left to right. ... Toronto activated INF Yangervis Solarte off the 10-day DL. Solarte suffered a strained right oblique in an Aug. 11 game against Tampa Bay.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (18-7, 2.75) starts the opener of a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday. The major league leader in wins, Kluber is 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA in his past two outings. The Rays have not named a starter.
Blue Jays: After an off day, LHP Ryan Borucki (3-4, 4.39) starts the opener of a three-game series at Boston on Tuesday night. Borucki is 1-0 in two starts against the Red Sox this season, allowing 11 runs in eight innings. LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 1.97) starts for Boston.