Toronto — For sheer baseball mortification, it takes something spectacular to outdo a 15-1 defeat.
Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose might have pulled it off Saturday at Rogers Centre when he thought the Blue Jays' half of the fourth inning had ended after he grabbed Josh Donaldson's drive to right-center field at Rogers Centre.
Contrary to Gose's calculations, the inning was still alive. Rather than Donaldson's snagged fly ball registering as the third out, it was only out No. 2, a basic fact of which Toronto's baserunner at second, Ryan Goins, understood.
Goins tagged at second, headed for third after Gose's catch, then turned and steamed for home as Gose trotted from the field. It was all part of Saturday's grotesque Tigers gallery, which included three home runs and nine RBIs by Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion in a 15-1 bludgeoning that was Detroit's eighth loss in its last nine games.
"It's not something you want to see," conceded Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who wasn't about to prosecute Gose, at least publicly. "There's really nothing you can say to him. He knows he screwed up."
Gose had departed the Tigers clubhouse before he could be questioned about the slip-up and likelihood it led to an acutely red face.
"It's tough to stay focused when the innings get long," said Rajai Davis, a Tigers outfield colleague who couldn't recall a time when he had such a blackout, but who empathized nonetheless.
"It's something we all deal with. Sometimes, you might lapse. You don't want it to happen to you, or to your teammates, but it happens.
"He knows he messed up. Everybody knows it. It's not the first or last time it'll happen."
One run. It's all the Tigers managed Saturday against the Jays, which can be the case when you manage just seven hits, all singles, against three Toronto pitchers.
Jose Iglesias had two of Detroit's seven hits as he pushed his batting average to .303. Ian Kinsler (.307) had the Tigers' only RBI, which came in the third when his groundout to shortstop scored Iglesias from third base. Kinsler also had one of the team's seven singles.
The Tigers used five pitchers Saturday. And all but one, Neftali Feliz, were hammered on a day when Encarnacion and the Jays strafed them for 18 hits.
Buck Farmer started for Detroit and had a gruesome four-inning experience: eight hits, six runs (five earned), with a pair of walks on a day when Tigers pitchers and their strike-zone issues put seven Jays on base.
Guido Knudson, Tom Gorzelanny, and Alex Wilson were socked for three runs apiece. Wilson had entered the game with a 1.75 ERA and departed with an ERA of 2.18.
"You talk about taking the crowd out of it," said Ausmus, who early Saturday was treated to Rogers Centre's rising decibels as 46,444 turned out for what became a Blue Jays fan fest. "Suddenly, they became more into it."
Ausmus had another reality to deal with: The prospect of Alfredo Simon starting Sunday's series finale against a Jays lineup that for the past few weeks hasn't been kind to starters or relievers, no matter the opponent.
"At some point, when a game gets out of hand, you just try and conserve your bullpen," said Ausmus, who will have a rested Blaine Hardy and Bruce Rondon, among others, available should Simon not survive.
The Tigers will also welcome Monday's off-day ahead of a three-game series at Kansas City against a team that doesn't figure to offer Ausmus' squad much of a break: the first-place Royals
Ausmus said decisions weren't yet final on how many players might be summoned from the Tigers farm when rosters are allowed to expand, beginning Tuesday.
"It's not completely settled," he said, explaining that the "vast majority" of reserves will arrive after Triple A Toledo finishes its regular season, Sept. 7.