After ending a long and frustrating losing skid to division rival Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers made their final stop of their current 11-game losing streak Thursday and to begin the final series before the All-Star break. They head north to the border and face a Toronto Blue Jays bunch that has won five in a row and just swept the Kansas City Royals out of town.
With major playoff implications on the line between these two teams, game one had a playoff-like atmosphere in the Rogers Centre but in the end,
INNINGS 1 – 3
Detroit went down in order to open up the game in the 1st, but Toronto notched two runs on two hits in the home half to take an early lead. An RBI single from Michael Saunders and an RBI double from Russell Martin, both with two outs, made it a 2-0 lead for the Jays.
Detroit did respond in the top half of the 2nd inning, a solo shot off the bat of Justin Upton, No. 9 on the season, cutting the deficit to 2-1 for Detroit.
Justin Upton homers to dead center. pic.twitter.com/wC6YKhBsAR
— Curtis (@Curtos07) July 7, 2016
That was all the scoring for both teams in the first three frames. Detroit stranded a two-out single and a walk in the 3rd, while Toronto left a man on base in the 2nd and the bases loaded in the 3rd. In total, six men left on base for the Jays. Credit to Tigers starter Justin Verlander for wiggling out of an early jam.
(THRU 3: TOR LEADS 2-1)
INNINGS 4 – 6
The Tigers would pounce on the Jays in the 4th and take their first lead of the game. First, it was Nick Castellanos leaving the yard for No. 17 on the season and third time in three games, tying the game at 2-2.
A no-doubter from Nick Castellanos. pic.twitter.com/lfCjAjKdJJ
— Curtis (@Curtos07) July 8, 2016
After an Upton double following the Castellanos later, catcher James McCann blooped a single down the right field line with two outs to score Upton, making it 3-2 Tigers. McCann was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double, to end the inning.
Toronto in the home half of the 4th went down 1-2-3 on three ground ball outs. Both teams would exchange similar 5th innings as both Detroit and Toronto at the plate got the first two men to reach base but neither could capitalize.
A key moment came in the bottom half of the 6th. After a one-out single from Kevin Pillar and a ground-rule double from Darwin Barney to put runners on second and third with one out, former Tiger Ezequiel Carrera dropped a bunt towards the first base side. Verlander fielded it and threw home to cut down a charging Pillar. The umpire initially called the runner out and was upheld after a challenge from the Jays.
You make the call. Carrera was the final batter for Verlander in the game and he was relieved by Shane Greene, who inherited runners on first and second with two outs. Greene hit his first batter Josh Donaldson to load the bases once again for Toronto but managed to strike out Edwin Encarnacion swinging to end the threat and escape the jam.
The final line on Verlander: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchinson was also done after six innings of work: 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 7 K.
(THRU 6: DET LEADS 3-2)
INNINGS 7 – 9
In comes Jays reliever Brett Cecil to pitch the 7th. McCann led of the inning with a double to left center and a Jose Iglesias single to right put runners on the corners with nobody out for Detroit.
The next better Ian Kinsler hit into a 6-4-3 double play but it allowed McCann to score from third and make it 4-2 Tigers. In the home half, it was Saunders leading off with a ground-rule double and he scored two batters later on an RBI single from Troy Tulowitzki, making it a one-run game once again.
That signaled the end for Greene and in comes Justin Wilson. He allowed a base hit to Pillar but induced a ground ball out and struck out a batter to strand two more runners for the Jays. To this point, Toronto has left 12 men on base versus just four for the Tigers.
Detroit did however strand a two-out walk in the 8th inning against Jays reliever and former Tiger Jason Grilli. Once again for Toronto, they set themselves up with first and third no outs. A strikeout of Encarnacion and a 3-2 ground ball fielder’s choice gunned down the runner on third. However, a walk to Martin to load the bases ended Justin Wilson’s night and in came Alex Wilson.
Unfortunately, the Tigers could not escape this bases-loaded jam. Wilson’s first batter was Tulowitzki, who proceeded to go the opposite way for a two-run single, giving the Jays a 5-4 lead.
That would be all Toronto need as closer Roberto Osuna mowed down the Tigers 1-2-3 in the 9th to seal a 5-4 victory.
ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES
- Catcher James McCann went 2-for-4 in this game with a double and an RBI. It was the first time since June 23 that McCann had recorded an XBH or drove in a run.
- Toronto had the bases loaded four separate times in this game and managed to only score runs in just one of those times, the two-run single from Troy Tulowitzki in the 8th to re-claim the lead.
- Final Vote Watch: Ian Kinsler went 1-for-3 in the game for Detroit; Michael Saunders for the Jays was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
UP NEXT: Game two takes place tomorrow again in the Rogers Centre, first pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. ET. It will be Mike Pelfrey (2-7, 4.78 ERA) toeing the slab against Toronto’s J.A. Happ (11-3, 3.54 ERA).