By STEVE HERRICK Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Noah Syndergaard won for the first time since April 30, rookies Brayan Rocchio and José Tena sparked Cleveland’s offense, and the Guardians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Thursday.
Syndergaard (2-5) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings and was removed with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. Nick Sandlin retired Nathan Lukes on a ground ball to end the inning.
Syndergaard made his third start with Cleveland since being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for shortstop Amed Rosario on July 26. He allowed a career-high four home runs against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
The 30-year-old right-hander has battled injuries over the past several seasons. He made 12 starts with the Dodgers before being sidelined with a blister and also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020.
“There’s really no excuse or no reason why I should not be the pitcher that I was before, but every five days I got to go there and compete with what I got,” Syndergaard said.
Syndergaard has quickly found a comfort level with his new team.
“Every day I just try to get a little bit better,” he said. “I’m definitely not where I want to be, but I think the coaches that I have here put me in the right direction.”
The game’s drama level increased after Syndergaard left. Toronto scored twice and loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Cleveland managed to stay ahead.
“I felt like I’ve been at the dentist since two o’clock or whatever,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “I mean, that was a long ending.”
Cleanup hitter George Springer and manager John Schneider were ejected by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak during the rally.
Springer had words for Rehak after a 3-2 pitch with two runners on was called strike three and shrugged his shoulders as walked to the dugout.
Rehak ejected Springer, which quickly brought an angry Schneider out of the dugout. Schneider was ejected and crew chief Chad Fairchild came down from first base to calm down the Blue Jays manager. Springer returned to the field after he discovered he had been thrown out.
Schneider thought the called third strike was low, but took more issue with Springer being ejected while he was heading to the dugout.
“I didn’t like the way he threw George out,” Schneider said. “You’re taking one of our best players and one of the best players in baseball out of the game. It’s always unfortunate when the players ultimately can’t decide the outcome.”
While Schneider thought Springer should have remained in the game, he believed his second ejection of the season was justified.
“What he said I don’t think warranted an ejection,” Schneider said. “What I said did.”
Toronto then loaded the bases, but Trevor Stephan retired Alejandro Kirk on a popup and struck out Davis Schneider.
Emmanuel Clase pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 39 chances.
Runs were difficult to come by as the teams split the four-game series. Toronto won Monday’s opener by a 3-1 score before the team exchanged 1-0 outcomes the following two nights.
Rocchio had RBI doubles in the second and fifth. Tena had an RBI single in the second for his first major league hit and a double in the fifth.
Alek Manoah (3-9) was pulled after the first two batters in the fifth reached base. He was charged with four runs and allowed four hits in four innings. Manoah struck out six, walked three and threw 93 pitches.
Whit Merrifield, Brandon Belt and Santiago Espinal had RBIs for Toronto. Catcher Danny Jansen was removed with a bruised hand after being hit by a pitch in the sixth.
THE KIDS CAN PITCH
Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen are the second Cleveland rookie trio of pitchers to allow a total of one earned run in three consecutive starts. The previous time it happened was 1916.
Blue Jays: SS Bo Bichette (right knee tendinitis) has hit in the batting cages the past two days and has started jogging. … RHP Jordan Romano (lower back) threw 33 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday. The next step in his rehab will be decided when the team returns home. … LHP Hyun Jin Ryu is scheduled to start Sunday. He was forced to leave Monday’s game after being hit on the right knee by a line drive in the fourth inning.
Blue Jays: Toronto begins a three-game series at home Friday night against the Chicago Cubs. RHP José Berríos (9-7, 3.38 ERA) will start the opener.
Guardians: RHP Xzavion Curry (3-1, 2.95 ERA) will start Friday night against the Rays. Cleveland will face former teammate Aaron Civale, traded to Tampa Bay on July 31.