Tigers win in 10th on Goodrum's hustle, after blowing lead in 9th

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
The Tigers' Niko Goodrum slides safely into third base as he hits a triple in the 10th inning Monday in Toronto.

Toronto — Suddenly, the Tigers are dealing with a different kind of streak.

It's a winning surge.

They won their second game in 24 hours Monday at Rogers Centre, and won it the hard way, 3-2, in 10 innings, after blowing a 2-1 lead in the ninth.

The Tigers snatched it when Niko Goodrum lashed a one-out triple up the right-center alley, and then scored on a sprint home after Jose Iglesias steered a sacrifice-fly tight to the line in medium right field.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 3, Blue Jays 2 (10 innings)

"I was thinking three bases as soon as I hit it," said Goodrum, who had a four-hit game Sunday and who Monday started for a second consecutive day at second base. "As soon as I saw it go up the gap, I had to get third base."

Ron Gardenhire, of course, agreed.

"You know what we've said all along — we go first to third," Gardenhire said, a reference to the Tigers' attack mode since spring camp, and also to the lack of RBI lumber that makes baseline sprints a mandate. "We have to."

Gardenhire and his team were so refreshed after Monday's game, which came following a Sunday victory that put an end to a two-week losing streak, the Tigers skipper could say, with a playful grin:

"Damn good managing, wasn't it?"

Gardenhire, more seriously, loved Monday's game given the grace with which Tigers starter Mike Fiers pitched for eight innings, holding the Jays to a run on three hits. He delighted, too, in his team's bounce-back run in the 10th after Toronto had tied it in the ninth, 2-2.

"We're gonna enjoy life," Gardenhire said after his team had won its second straight after losing 11 consecutive times. 

The Jays had come back against new Tigers closer Joe Jimenez in the ninth after Fiers had spun a masterly eight innings of baseball.

Fiers, though, had told Gardenhire he wanted to pitch the entire ninth, or not at all. Gardenhire, who in the vein of all managers wants it known who does, and who doesn't, make pitching changes, opted for Jimenez, who is the new closer after Shane Greene was sent to the disabled list Monday with shoulder issues

Jimenez struck out Randal Grichuk, the ninth-inning leadoff batter, but then walked Yangervis Solarte after an eight-pitch at-bat.

Teoscar Hernandez followed with a deep drive against the fence in left-center, sending pinch-runner Devon Travis to third. Kendrys Morales was walked intentionally to load the bases for Kevin Pillar, who nearly stole Sunday's show with a colossal catch on Nick Castellanos' ninth-inning near-homer.

Pillar, though, hit a shallow fly to left-center that Mikie Mahtook handled, holding Travis at third.

That brought on Tigers killer Justin Smoak.    

Smoak got a reprieve on a 2-2 pitch that home-plate umpire Mark Carlson called a ball despite looking on video and to those in the Tigers dugout as if it might well have caught the up-and-in corner.

Jimenez then missed on 3-2 and Smoak walked, tying the game, 2-2.

"Some close pitches," Gardenhire said of the sequence to Smoak, "but you've got to throw 'em over."

Jimenez put away Luke Maile on a ground-ball force-out at second, bringing on the 10th inning and the Goodrum-spurred rally that won it.

The Jays had another shot in the 10th after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off with a single against Buck Farmer. Blaine Hardy relieved Farmer and Gurriel scampered to second on a sacrifice bunt from Curtis Granderson.

Hardy struck out Grichuk on a swinging third-strike cutter for the second out. He wrapped up Monday's drama by quashing Travis, the one-time Tigers prospect, on a groundout to Goodrum at second.    

Fiers had earlier tormented the Jays as he threw streams of strikes and kept the Blue Jays from putting pressure on a pitch-count that, inning by inning, was a marvel of minimalism. He threw his fastball at 91 mph, his curveball as low as 71, with an 80s-grade change-up mixed in.

"He was changing speeds, locating the ball," Gardenhire said. "He paints the strike zone. When the catcher sets up away and in front, he throws away and in front."

The ease with which he was slaying Jays batters Monday made all the more surprising Jimenez's arrival in the ninth, which followed a Gardenhire-Fiers summit meeting.

"You're either in or you're out," Gardenhire said, not angrily but firmly, as he replayed their chat following the eighth.

To which Fiers said: Amen.

"There's a bind there," Fiers acknowledged of his conversation with Gardenhire. "Either I'm in or I'm not."

Fiers had control issues aplenty when he pitched last season for the Astros, averaging 3.6 walks per game. He is now just beneath two walks per game after allowing a single freebie Monday while striking out five.

"Just throwing a lot of strikes, changing speeds," said Fiers, whose ERA now sits at 3.79 seven months after he signed a free-agent deal with the Tigers.

"I'm just glad I got the opportunity here."

The Tigers initiated Monday's drama with a run in the first on four consecutive singles. They got a go-ahead run in the sixth.

Mahtook, playing in left field after he was summoned to replace the injured Leonys Martin, led off the sixth with a swinging-bunt single down the third-base line.

After a force-out grounder erased Mahtook and left Nick Castellanos at first, Jeimer Candelario, who had three hits Monday, singled to right, sending Castellanos to third. John Hicks followed with a topper to third, which forced Candelario at second. But the double-play relay from second baseman Gurriel Jr. missed by a step of getting Hicks at first as Castellanos scored.

The only run against Fiers came in the fourth. Granderson had a swinging-bunt single down the third-base line, which had been vacated by a shift. He sped to third on a hooking double from Grichuck, then scored on Hernandez's groundout to shortstop.

The only other Jays hit against Fiers came when Hernandez led off the seventh with a hard single to left.

The Tigers now head for Chicago and a two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"Now," Gardenhire said as Monday's comeback settled in, "let's come back and win a couple in Chicago."