If fans feel that falling into last place in the AL Central was the worst it gets for the Detroit Tigers this season then they didn’t watch this afternoon’s game. Bad pitching, mental lapses on the bases and in the field plus Edwin Encarnacion all combined to create a miserable Saturday afternoon for the Tigers in Toronto.
The Blue Jays showed they were ready for business from the very start when center fielder Kevin Pillar and left fielder Ben Revere made stellar plays on long drives by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to get starter Drew Hutchison (13-2) out of the first inning.
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In the bottom of the first Tigers starter Buck Farmer (0-3) achieved the highlight of his day when he got lead-off man Troy Tulowitzki to strike out swinging at an 0-2 curveball. Josh Donaldson followed with a single, Jose Bautista walked, then Encarnacion launched his first bomb of the day to left field to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.
That early lead could have been worse if it weren’t for two bonehead baserunning plays that let Farmer off the hook. Justin Smoak followed the home run with a double to right, then was thrown out at third when he tried to advance on a Russell Martin grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias. Martin was then thrown out by James McCann on a steal attempt to close out the inning.
The Tigers ran themselves out of a scoring chance in the second when Nick Castellanos singled to open the inning. Tyler Collins followed with an at-bat that went 11-pitches and a 3-2 count before he struck out swinging. For some inexplicable reason Castellanos was running on the pitch and was easily gunned down by Martin.
In the third, Iglesias led off with a single, then Rajai Davis lofted a high fly-ball that right fielder Bautista lost in the sun and dropped. Davis shrunk his double into a single by trotting down the first base line, anticipating the out. The Tigers scored Iglesias on an Ian Kinsler ground out but the Tigers lost a chance to do some damage when it would have made a difference.
The Blue Jays scored single runs in the second, third and fourth before resting for their half of the fifth inning. Their run in the fourth came courtesy of an Anthony Gose brain cramp. With Ryan Goins on second, Donaldson launched a long fly to center that Gose hauled in, then began trotting the ball back to the infield. Goins tagged and didn’t slow down until he had scored the Blue Jays’ sixth run.
Encarnacion blasted the game out of reach in the sixth and seventh innings. Guido Knudson gave up a two-run homer to him in the sixth, then after Tom Gorzelanny loaded the bases after two were out in the seventh, Alex Wilson came in to surrender Encarnacion’s grand slam in the seventh.
Every starter in Toronto’s lineup collected at least one hit in the game except for Bautista. He walked twice and scored both times. Every Toronto starter scored at least once except for Kevin Pillar in the eighth spot.
Wilson, the rock of the Tigers’ bullpen this season gave up two home runs in one inning after only allowing two home runs in his previous 48 appearances this season.
The Tigers will attempt to salvage a win in the series finale Sunday afternoon when they send Alfredo Simon (11-8) to the mound against Mark Buehrle (13-6), who is 18-10 against the Tigers in his career.