Toronto — There were other concerns, perhaps, within Sunday’s Tigers galaxy.
A hurricane in the South. A certain NFL game at Ford Field.
In terms of distractions, the Tigers scarcely qualified as they were bounced by the Blue Jays, 8-2, at Rogers Centre.
Anibal Sanchez was lashed for 12 hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, and that was all the help Toronto required on a day when Detroit’s only two runs came on Ian Kinsler’s fifth-inning homer into the bullpen in left against Jays starter J.A. Happ.
“Yeah, when they end up with 16 hits, and some big home runs early,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, agreeing that Sunday’s show didn’t quite qualify as a contest. “And then Kins’ homer is the only damage we do.”
The Tigers got seven hits, two of which — a double and a single — came from Nick Castellanos, who again started in right field for the Tigers and who again handled matters without drama or missteps.
Sanchez was reasonably fine in Sunday’s early going. He allowed only a run through the first three innings, while striking out four Jays batters.
But the Jays ripped into him for three hits and a pair of runs in the fourth, and then added four more runs on five hits in the fifth.
Five of those runs came courtesy of rookie outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who slammed a two-run shot in the fourth, and added a three-run bomb in the fifth.
“One thing he used to be able to do with a couple more miles-per-hour was pitch up,” Ausmus said after Sanchez’s bruising day. “It was a little easier to get away with a mistake.”
Sanchez has been tagged for 25 homers in 82 1/3 innings in 2017. It continues a pattern that began two seasons ago when Sanchez was slammed for 29 homers. He allowed another 30 last season, and now, in what is almost certain to be his final weeks in a Tigers uniform, the trend continues.
Sanchez afterward gave most of the credit for Hernandez’s blasts to Hernandez, a 24-year-old, right-handed batter who can hit a ball into the seats in any direction.
Sanchez said Hernandez’s first bomb, which went to center field, “was a little up,” and that his second, to right field, “was low” and to the plate’s opposite side.
“I don’t want to say bad luck,” Sanchez said.
But bad luck was implied, even as the Jays whacked him for 10 additional hits in his 4 2/3-inning shift.
The Tigers got serviceable relief from three bullpen pitchers: Jeff Ferrell (one-third of an inning, one hit), Artie Lewicki (two innings, three hits, three strikeouts), and Daniel Norris (one inning, no hits).
Detroit’s offense Sunday was modest. Steadily so.
The Tigers got back-to-back hits from Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera in the first. But they were outliers on a day when Happ, who can be very good, was quite good. He got all three first-inning outs on strikeouts.
Happ lasted six innings, striking out nine, and holding the Tigers to five hits. One of those came in the fifth after Dixon Machado led off and was safe on an infield error.
Kinsler, who hit home runs in Wednesday’s and Friday’s Tigers game, made it three in five days when he caught a Happ fastball and drove it beyond the left-field fence.
The Tigers got a leadoff double from Jeimer Candelario in the eighth, but he never made it past third base.
The Tigers simply were not, for long, involved in much of a game Sunday. It wasn’t the best note on which to head for Cleveland for a three-game challenge against September’s most furious team, the Indians.