Toronto — Big-league baseball allows what football Saturdays do not.
A team that’s just taken one in the snoot can at least look forward to some Sunday redemption.
The Tigers had little choice Saturday but to plot next-day plans, even after they made a gallant ninth-inning surge, scoring twice, and leaving the tying run at third in what went down as a 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
“We’ve done this a number of times this season,” said manager Brad Ausmus, whose team seemed on its way to an early dinner until the Tigers crafted some ninth-inning commotion. “It seems like we always make the other team sweat.”
Down, 5-2, the Tigers scored twice on a walk to Jeimer Candelario, Miguel Cabrera’s single, and Nicholas Castellanos’ RBI double against the right-field fence that scored Candelario to make it a 5-3 game.
John Hicks followed with a shot through the middle that might have been an inning-wrecker for Toronto. But it was snagged by Jays reliever Ryan Tepera, who turned it into a put-out of Hicks.
James McCann next slashed a single through the left-side hole to drive home Cabrera and make it 5-4. Castellanos held at third and now was in shape to score on a sacrifice fly.
JaCoby Jones popped out to second, freezing Castellanos, all before Andrew Romine ended it on a called third strike.
“J.J. had a good swing, he got it on the (bat) barrel, he was just under it,” Ausmus said of Jones’ bid.
Hicks had, in fact, come the closest to making a big inning bigger as Cabrera stood at third and Castellanos at second.
“Yeah, I was just trying to hit something up the middle or to the right side,” Hicks said, “and set up something for Mac (McCann).
“But he made a good play and got to it.”
Detroit had hinted early Saturday this might go down as one more road surprise, on a par with Friday night’s 5-4 knockoff of the Jays.
Cabrera, fresh from his six-game suspension, pounded a first-inning Brett Anderson fastball beyond the left-field fence for a two-run bomb that gave the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead.
But the Jays steadily tore into Chad Bell, Warwick Saupold, Daniel Stumpf, Jeff Ferrell, and Blaine Hardy, rolling up 13 hits, including a pair in the sixth that put Toronto on top, 4-2. A final run in the eighth against Hardy became the game-winner.
The Tigers finished with eight hits, which was deceiving only in that the Jays did a fair amount of showing off Saturday, thanks mostly to their outfield defense, which canceled a couple of glorious scoring shots.
Kevin Pillar, who had four hits including a home run, crashed against the center-field fence in the fifth to steal a 400-foot hit from Dixon Machado. In the sixth, Jose Bautista’s glove, which isn’t his billboard asset, rescued the Jays when he slid along Rogers’ fake sod to thwart Castellanos’ bid for a RBI single.
“They make a lot of money on the other side,” Ausmus said, referring to the Jays’ cast. “They’re good baseball players.”
The Blue Jays also stole a couple of bases and ran their way into another run in the fourth when Kendrys Morales scored from third on a neat play McCann wished he could revise.
Morales was on third, and Teoscar Hernandez at first, when Hernandez decided to swipe second base.
McCann went for Hernandez. Morales, however, was waiting to ambush a team and a catcher that never expected him to run. Kinsler cut off the throw, but there was no shot at Morales, who lumbered home with a run that tied the game, 2-2.
“That was a mistake by me,” McCann said afterward. “Two outs, two strikes, and it’s not about trying to steal a bag, it’s about stealing a run.
“I should have checked him, or gotten him in a rundown. I know he’s not a guy known for his speed. But I got caught up in throwing him (Hernandez) out and not preserving the run.”
The Tigers will give it another go Sunday, with Anibal Sanchez getting a start against J.A. Happ.
From there, it’s on to Cleveland for a series against an Indians team that has won 17 consecutive games, refusing, it seems in September, to do what the Tigers did by a run Saturday at Rogers Centre.