The Indians’ 8-19 mark against the East is the second worst among AL teams as they begin a three-game home set against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Cleveland (46-43) dropped three of four to Detroit to fall 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers, losing 4-2 in 10 innings Monday.
The Indians’ poor play against the East is a key reason why they aren’t closer to the division lead, as Detroit is 15-11 against that division.
Cleveland got off to a good start versus the East when it won the first two games of a series against Toronto (43-45) from April 2-4. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez each allowed one run over six innings.
Jimenez (6-4, 4.67 ERA) will open this set, and he’s gone 2-0 with a 3.81 ERA in his last five outings. The Indians had won four straight starts by the right-hander before he gave up four runs over five innings of a 10-7 defeat at Kansas City on Thursday.
Jimenez owns a 6.82 home ERA compared to a 3.31 mark on the road. He’s limited Toronto slugger Jose Bautista to a double in 16 at-bats.
Bautista, though, has gone 14 for 32 with four homers and 10 runs over his last nine games.
The Blue Jays totaled 13 runs in a 1-4 stretch before breaking out in an 11-5 home win over Minnesota on Sunday. Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus each drove in three as Toronto ended a three-series losing streak.
“It’s always nice when you can win the series,” Davis told the Blue Jays’ official website. “Just want to keep that ball rolling and continue to win more series throughout the rest of the season.”
Brantley is surging with 14 hits in his last 34 at-bats while Santana is headed in the opposite direction, mired in an 8-for-40 slump.
Santana figures to be back behind the plate Tuesday after backup Yan Gomes got the start Monday.
The Indians had 10 singles for all of their hits Monday and left 10 runners on base in falling for the first time in six extra-inning contests.
“It’s just kind of one of those games,” outfielder Nick Swisher said. “We left a small village on the sacks. We’ve got to do a little better job there, but that’s how baseball goes.”
The Blue Jays’ Josh Johnson (1-3, 4.89) has received no runs of support in three of his last four outings. That was the case Wednesday when he surrendered six runs - one earned - in a 6-2 defeat to the Tigers.
Johnson won his lone start against the Indians on May 20, 2012, yielding one run over seven innings of a 5-3 victory for Miami. He has limited Cleveland slugger Mark Reynolds to a home run and eight strikeouts in nine at-bats.