Wickman returned to the active roster on July 6 after missing a year due to “Tommy John” surgery on his right elbow and is already stabilizing a relief corps that had been unreliable for the Indians this season.
The 35-year-old right-hander pitched a scoreless ninth on Wednesday to earn his sixth save in seven chances and help the Indians to a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Wickman, who earned 66 saves as the Indians’ closer from 2000-02, has allowed one run and five hits in eight innings over eight games since returning to that role.
“He’s still working his way back,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “I think when you look at what he’s done here in the short term, he’s definitely solidified the bullpen, and having his presence down there helps everybody.”
Entering Wednesday’s game, the Cleveland bullpen, which has a major league-worst 5.32 ERA, has posted a 2.53 ERA in the last seven games.
“I’ve said it so many times before, the bullpen starts with the closer and you work your way back from there,” Wedge said. “So to have someone in the back end that you can count on helps everybody else fall in place.”
Matt Lawton hit his 19th homer Wednesday for the Indians, who have won three in a row and improved to 15-3 at home in one-run games. They have won seven of eight since a four-game slide and trail the first-place Minnesota Twins by three games in the AL Central.
Toronto lost for the seventh time in eight games and dropped to 1-2 under interim manager John Gibbons.
“We had some chances, but what are you going to do?” Gibbons said. “It’s frustrating. One of these days, a game like this is going to go our way.”