FINAL: BLUE JAYS 7, TIGERS 2
The Tigers returned from the all-star break and delivered an all-too-familiar performance in a 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Comerica Park on Friday night.
Tigers pitching walked 10, and while Justin Verlander accounted for three of those, the bullpen certainly didn't do its job in letting a 2-1 lead snowball the way it did.
Verlander had good stuff early on. His breaking ball was really working, fooling Toronto hitters on his way to five strikeouts. The pitches started to add up, though, and after Verlander walked two in the sixth, he was shown the door. Shane Greene came on in relief, and he proceeded to walk in a run, a sign of things to come for a Tigers bullpen that couldn't stop issuing the free pass.
The offense was able outhit the Jays 10-8, but the Tigers couldn't get the timely hit that may have shifted the course of the night.
In the ninth, Andrew Romine delivered a one-out solo home run (the first earned run of the night for the offense). Jose Iglesias singled back through the middle of the diamond, but that was all the fight the Tigers had in them. Alex Presley struck out looking, and Dixon Machado grounded out to third to end the game.
Tomorrow's starters: Michael Fulmer (9-6, 3.19) vs. Francisco Liriano (5-4, 5.56)
Top 9th: Blue Jays 7, Tigers 1
Kendrys Morales struck out swinging, and Troy Tulowitzki did the same did the same against Daniel Stumph to start the ninth. After an Ezequiel Carerra double, Stumph issued the 10th walk of the night by Tigers pitching before getting out of the jam by striking out Darwin Barney.
Bottom 8th: Blue Jays 7, Tigers 1
Miguel Cabrera grounded out to third, J.D. Martinez struck out swinging and Victor Martinez grounded out to first as the Tigers went down in order in the eighth against Toronto reliever Joe Biagini.
Top 8th: Blue Jays 7, Tigers 1
Steve Pearce delivered his third hit of the game with a one-out single to left field off of Blaine Hardy. After walking Kevin Pillar, Hardy bounce back to strike out Darwin Barney. The Tigers' reliever then walked Jose Bautista, and with the bases loaded, gave a free pass to Russell Martin that added a tally to the Toronto lead at 5-1.
Hardy was able to get ahead of Josh Donaldson with the bases loaded, but after putting the Jays' slugger in an 0-2 hole, Donaldson worked the count full before delivering a two-run single to left field that puts Toronto up 7-1.
After Daniel Stumph relieved Hardy of his duties, Justin Smoak grounded out to third to end the inning.
Tigers pitching has now issued nine walks.
Troy Tulowitzki grounded out to third base to leadoff the inning.
Bottom 7th: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 1
As weird as it sounds, Alex Avila was able to reach on an infield hit with two outs. That anomaly didn't matter though, as Justin Upton flew out to center field to end the frame.
Jose Iglesias grounded out back to the mound, and Alex Presley struck out swinging to leadoff the inning against Toronto reliever Danny Barnes.
Top 7th: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 1
Warwick Saupold got the call from the Tigers bullpen in the seventh, and Jose Bautista was waiting on him. Bautista jumped all over a Saupold fastball and hit a solo shot over the left field fence to leadoff the inning, pushing the Toronto lead to 4-1.
After Russell Martin grounded out to shortstop, Saupold walked Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. Luckily for the Tigers, Saupold was able to induce an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Kendrys Morales.
The bullpen is laboring in its first game back from the break. After Shane Greene threw 25 pitches to get two outs in the sixth, Saupold threw 27 in the seventh.
Bottom 6th: Blue Jays 3, Tigers 1
Victor Martinez dropped a one-out single into right field, but the Tigers weren't able to do anything with it. Nick Castellanos flew out to right field, and Andrew Romine flew out to center field to end the inning.
J.D. Martinez flew out to center field to leadoff the inning.
Aaron Sanchez has thrown 101 pitches for Toronto.
Top 6th: Blue Jays 3, Tigers 1
After striking out Josh Donaldson to start the sixth, Justin Verlander walked Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales. At 114 pitches, that meant that Verlander's night was done.
Shane Greene got the call from the bullpen, and after Troy Tulowitzki flew out to left field, Steve Pearce was able to reach on an infield base hit. With the bases loaded, Greene walked Kevin Pillar, putting the Jays up 3-1.
Greene faced another full count against Darwin Barney, but he got the benefit of the doubt on a call at the bottom of the zone to get out of the inning. Greene threw 25 pitches.
Bottom 5th: Blue Jays 2, Tigers 1
Jose Iglesias got things started with an infield single. Alex Presley followed with a single through the right side of the infield that put runners on the corners. Alex Avila hit a line drive right at the third baseman Josh Donaldson, who tried to double up Presley at first base, but ended up throwing the ball away, allowing Iglesias to score and cut the Toronto lead to 2-1.
The goof also allowed Presley to move up to second with one out, and Justin Upton was able to work a walk to set the table for Miguel Cabrera. But the big guy failed to deliver, grounding into an inning-ending double play.
Top 5th: Blue Jays 2, Tigers 0
Steve Pearce broke open a scoreless game with a monstrous solo home run to left field to put Toronto up 1-0 on the Tigers in the fifth inning. The dinger was the seventh of the season for Pearce.
Kevin Pillar followed with what appeared to be a routine fly out to right field, but J.D. Martinez dropped the ball, allowing Pillar to end up at second base. Darwin Barney grounded out to shortstop, moving Pillar up to third. Barney scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jose Bautista, giving the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.
Justin Verlander's pitch count it at 95, meaning he's not long for this game, though he'll more than likely be trotted back out for the sixth.
Bottom 4th: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Victor Martinez struck out looking, Nick Castellanos flew out to center field, and Andrew Romine struck out swinging as the Tigers went down in order for the first time tonight against Aaron Sanchez.
Top 4th: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Josh Donaldson struck out swinging, and Justin Smoak did the same before Justin Verlander missed with a 3-2 breaking ball to Kendrys Morales. Verlander bounced back to get Troy Tulowitzki to ground out to second to in the inning.
Verlander's pitch count is high at 77, as he continues to try to strike guys out instead of pitching to contact. His stuff is good tonight, but he's throwing a lot of pitches, and his propensity to not pitch to contact more often is a big reason why he's issued a lot of walks this year.
Bottom 3rd: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Alex Presley drew a leadoff walk from Aaron Sachez, and after Alex Avila struck out looking, Justin Upton delivered his second hit of the day with a single to left field that put two men on base for Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera looked to ground into an inning-ending double play, but Upton's slide into second base was able to force a slow throw on the turn that allowed Cabrera to reach. With runners on the corners and two outs, J.D. Martinez struck out swinging to end the frame.
Top 3rd: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Darwin Barney singled to center field with one out, but Justin Verlander got Jose Bautista to foul out, and Russell Martin to ground out to first to end the frame.
Kevin Pillar struck out swinging at a nasty slider from Verlander to leadoff the inning.
Verlander's pitch count is a bit sketchy at 54.
Bottom 2nd: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
J.D. Martinez led things off by reaching on an infield single. Victor Martinez flew out to right field in the next at-bat, and Nick Castellanos followed by flying out to center field. Andrew Romine was able to slice a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third, but Jose Iglesias grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Top 2nd: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Kendrys Morales grounded out to first, Troy Tulowitzki grounded out to third, and Steve Pearce grounded out to second as Justin Verlander had a neat and tidy second frame.
Verlander's thrown 33 pitches thus far.
Bottom 1st: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Justin Upton singled down the right field line with two outs, but Miguel Cabrera flew out to center field to end the inning against Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez.
Alex Presley grounded out to third, and Alex Avila grounded out to first to leadoff the frame.
Top 1st: Tigers 0, Blue Jays 0
Russell Martin pulled a one-out single to left field off of Justin Verlander, but the former ace bounced back to get Josh Donaldson to fly out to center field, and Justin Smoak to ground out into the shift on a great diving play in shallow right field by Andrew Romine.
Verlander picked up a strikeout of Jose Bautista to start the game.
Tigers vs. Blue Jays
First pitch: 7:10, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1
Pitchers: Tigers, RHP Justin Verlander (5-6, 4.73); Blue Jays, RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-2, 4.85)
Records: The Tigers are 39-48, in fourth place in the AL Central and 8 games back of the first-place Indians. The Blue Jays are 41-47, in fifth in the AL East and 8.5 games behind the first-place Red Sox.
1. Alex Presley, CF
2. Alex Avila, C
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. J.D. Martinez, RF
6. Victor Martinez, DH
7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
8. Andrew Romine, 2B
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Justin Verlander, SP
1. Jose Bautista, RF
2. Russell Martin, C
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
7. Steve Pearce, LF
8. Kevin Pillar, CF
9. Darwin Barney, 2B
Aaron Sanchez, SP