Toronto — Had it been a hockey game, not many stars would have been asked to skate from Detroit’s bench following Sunday’s contest at Rogers Centre.
But this, after all, was big league baseball. And on a day when the Tigers again were bombed by the Blue Jays, 9-2, about the only luminary the Tigers could offer was third baseman Nick Castellanos, who had three of his team’s seven hits, two of which were Castellanos doubles.
“The big leagues is still the hardest league in the world,” said Castellanos, talking about his team’s travails after the Tigers had lost for the ninth time in their past 10 games. “At the beginning of this year, I had the biggest learning curve.
“It takes time to make adjustments, and to get at-bats.”
Castellanos on Sunday had his sixth game this season with three hits or more. He now is batting .249 and has a second-half OPS in the mid-.800s, 200 points more than his first-half OPS.
It’s all a matter of experience, he said, explaining that average hitters make adjustments each week, All-Star players make adjustments each game, and Hall of Famers make those same alterations within single at-bats.
Castellanos is working to narrow his own timeline — which the Tigers can all the more appreciate from a second-year player who is still only 23.
Trouble in Toronto
It was another miserable day Sunday for Alfredo Simon, who has absorbed back-to-back drubbings following a one-hit victory over the Rangers on Aug. 20.
He lasted five innings Sunday and the numbers were sorrowful: six hits, six runs, two walks, two strikeouts, four home runs, and a hit batter.
Simon’s ERA is now a bulging 5.09.
“In all three games, these guys (Blue Jays) threw a haymaker right out of the gate,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who, along with his pitching staff, got too good of a look at Toronto’s imposing lineup lumber.
Ausmus thought Simon should have been absolved of any blame, or suspicion, following a tight pitch to Troy Tulowitzki in the first inning. The pitch, a Simon fastball, came on an 0-2 count and followed home runs by Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion.
It spurred plate umpire Marvin Hudson to warn Simon and both dugouts that anything perceived as threatening a hitter would bring ejections of offending pitchers and managers.
“I don’t think either side thought we were throwing at Tulowitzki,” Ausmus said.
There were no further incidents and no dismissals.
Encarnacion was plunked by Simon in the fifth, but it was on a 47-mph eephus pitch that drew more laughs than ire.
The Tigers on Aug. 20 were within two games of .500 after they beat the Rangers at Comerica Park.
But they have since won only one game, on Aug. 26 against the Angels, courtesy of Justin Verlander’s one-hitter.
Toronto’s three-game weekend mauling of the Tigers was the Blue Jays’ first sweep of Detroit in a series at Rogers Centre since 2003, when the Tigers lost 119 games.