'We'll be fine': Toothless Tigers blanked again; X-rays negative on Miguel Cabrera's hand

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull works in the first inning.

Toronto — The Tigers' offensive totals through three games: Two runs, 11 hits, 37 strikeouts and 27 scoreless innings out of 28 played.

Manager Ron Gardenhire was asked after the 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays Saturday, the club's second straight shutout loss, at what point does this start to be a concern.

"When you guys leave this room, I am just going to curl up and cry," he said, as the smirk cracked his face. "I'm going to start pulling these pictures off the wall. I'm going to drink heavily."

You get the point, right? It's too early to panic.

"No, I have confidence in these guys," he said. "We have good hitters in this lineup. These things happen. You just keep dealing with it. As I told them, just keep playing boys. This is a long, long season.

"We'll be fine."

BOX SCORE: Blue Jays 3, Tigers 0

It would be highly counterproductive for a manager to sound any alarm three games into a season. But that doesn't mean it's easy watching hitter after hitter flailing away at pitches out of the strike zone.

The Tigers had 28 swings and misses against Blue Jays pitching Saturday, the majority of which were on fastball balls up and out of the strike zone. Home plate umpire Ed Hickox was giving pitchers high strikes, but the Blue Jays, with 13 strikeouts, exploited it more than Tigers' pitchers.

"We are chasing pitches out of the zone right now, that's all," Gardenhire said. "We're maybe trying to do a little too much. That's what happens. Everybody wants to hit a five-run home run with one guy on base. 

"Just settle down, cover the plate and use the whole field. We'll be OK."  

There was one piece of good news for the Tigers Saturday. Miguel Cabrera appears to have come away with just a bruise after he was hit in the bottom of his right hand by a pitch from Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez in the sixth inning.

X-rays taken during the game came back negative.

"Nothing is broken," said Cabrera, who appeared to lobby to stay in the game. "If he (trainer Doug Teter) don't like what he sees, it's better to get the X-ray and make sure it's not broken."

Cabrera was expected to DH on Sunday, but Gardenhire said he'd wait to see how the hand felt in the morning. 

The Tigers have yet to score a run off a Blue Jays starting pitcher in this series — all zeroes in 19⅓ innings against Marcus Stroman, Matt Shoemaker and Sanchez.

The only hit that’s produced a run was Christin Stewart’s game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning Thursday.

They got five hits and struck out 15 times in the opener Thursday. They managed just two hits with nine strikeouts Friday, and five singles and 13 strikeouts Saturday.

"We are struggling offensively right now, but that's probably because of their pitching," Gardenhire said. "We've been in every ballgame. We're battling through it and we had some chances today.

"We just can't come up with the big hit right now. Just keep working at it. You go from spring training where you're swinging the bat good, and all of a sudden you go through this. But you can't let these guys get down in there. You've got to keep playing."

The Tigers  had runners in scoring position in the first inning — singles by Nick Castellanos and Cabrera — but neither Jeimer Candelario nor Niko Goodrum could produce a hit. They had runners at first and third with two outs in the third, and Sanchez got Candelario to fly out to center.

Candelario, after a strong spring, has started 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts.

"We're just swinging at bad pitches," Candelario said. "He was calling the (high pitch) for a strike, but we've got to make adjustments. That's the game. It's just three games, though. You can't worry about it.

"It's going to be fine." 

The lack of offense left the Tigers pitchers with another small margin for error.

Right-hander Spencer Turnbull, like Matthew Boyd on Friday, was beaten by one fourth-inning hiccup. He had put down the first nine Blue Jays hitters before giving up a lead-off double to Brandon Drury and an RBI single by Billy McKinney in the fourth.

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McKinney tried to stretch it to a double and Castellanos threw him out with a strong throw.

But after walking Teoscar Hernandez, Turnbull left a curveball over the outside part of the plate and Justin Smoak lined it over the wall in left field — a two-run shot.

"Just hung the curveball there," Turnbull said. "Overall, I felt good. I had most of my pitches, but there were several in the fourth I wish I could take back."

Turnbull ended up throwing 91 pitches in five innings, allowing four hits, two walks and hit batsman. He struck out five.

"For the most part, I was rushing a little bit (in the fourth inning)," he said. "I got a little ahead of myself and left some balls up. It's hard to say exactly, but I felt a little out of whack there for a second. 

"Coming out of the stretch got me, maybe, I don't know."

He may have saved his best pitch sequence for his final hitter. With two on and two out in the fifth, he struck out Hernandez on three pitches — curveball (called strike), a 94-mph four-seam fastball (swinging) and a hard, biting cutter (swinging).

"It's a little frustrating, more because I couldn't get it corrected quicker in the fourth," Turnbull said. "I felt like I was spinning there for a second. But the results are going to be what they are, I just wish I could have got back in my groove a little sooner than I did." 


Twitter: @cmccosky