The Toronto Blue Jays rocked rookie starter Jose Alvarez for five runs in the first three innings, coasting to an 8-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. Having lost six of seven and three straight, the Tigers have fallen out of first place in the AL Central for the first time in six weeks, and now sit 1/2 game back of the Cleveland Indians.
Winning pitcher R.A. Dickey (8-8) and his knuckler flummoxed the Tiger offense, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings. Alvarez was knocked around for five runs, four earned, cased after three innings of work. But it was reliever Luke Putkonen who served up the dagger, allowing a two out, three run home run to Mark DeRosa, putting the game out of reach.
Joining DeRosa in the Jays' home run parade was Jose Reyes, a solo shot one of his three hits. Rajai Davis ran wild against the Tigers, stealing two bases, scoring twice and adding a pair of hits. The Tigers hit two home runs of their own, Prince Fielder and Omar Infate hitting solo homers. Infante had more than half of the Tigers hits with four on the afternoon, along with two RBI.
The story of the game? The Tigers fell behind early and, well, that was that. Once the Jays were up six, it was just a matter of waiting around for the end of the game.
Alvarez allowed runners to reach scoring position with two out in each of the first two innings. Jose Bautista doubled with two down in the first, only to be stranded on Mark DeRosa's ground out.
But in the second inning, Alvarez couldn't pitch completely out of a two out jam.
After two were out, Maicer Izturis singled. Izturis advanced to second when Josh Thole drew a base on balls. Alvarez made matters worse. moving the runners forward 90 feet with an easy to call balk, giving Munenori Kawasaki a shot with a pair of runners in scoring position. Kawasaki became the third straight Jay to reach, singling through the hole in the left side. Izturis scored easily, but Thole ran through the third base coach Luis Rivera's stop sign. Playing shallow, Andy Dirks fired an on-target one-hopper to Brayan Pena to nail Thole at the plate.
Dirks' throw ended the inning, but the Blue Jays had taken a 1-0 lead.
Dickey had retired six straight before Omar Infante singled to left, only to be eliminated when Dirks bounced into a 3-6 fielder's choice. Dickey uncorked a wild pitch, Dirks taking second. Pena worked a walk, giving the top of the Tigers' order an RBI opportunity. But Jackson struck out and Hunter's come-backer deflected off Dickey to Kawasaki at second for the 1-4 force.
Reyes made it a 2-0 game, leading off the third with a no-doubt solo home run, his third of the season. Reyes jumped all over Alvarez's off-speed pitch, delivering it to the second deck in left.
Davis followed with a double down the left field line. He then took advantage of the Tigers' battery falling asleep. As Pena lazily lobbed the ball back to Alvarez with Bautista at the plate, Davis smartly took off for third, stealing third without a throw. Talk about an embarrassing faux pas by the Tigers, emblematic of the road trip to this point.
A struggling Alvarez proceeded to walk the bases loaded, issuing free passes to Bautista and Colby Rasmus. The Rogers Centre roof had started to cave in on Alvarez.
With one out. J.P. Arencibia (who wasn't in the original lineup), bounced an RBI single to left to plate both Davis and Baustita. Dirks' throw home hit the runner, caroming to the backstop. When the dust had settled, the two runs had scored, Dirks had been charged with an error and the Jays had runners on second and third. Before Alvarez could end the inning, an Izturis sacrifice fly made it a 5-0 game.
Eight Jays had gone to the plate, scoring four runs on three hits, a walk, stolen base and an error. This was also the end of the road for Alvarez, who would not return for the fourth.
To their credit, the Tigers were able to counter the Jays' four runs with tow of their own. Fielder launched a knuckler which didn't knuckle over the right field wall to left of the 328 mark. Fielder's 14th home run of the season made it a 5-1 Jays lead. Martinez kept the rally going with a double, and would score on Infante's RBI double. The Tigers had pulled to within three at 5-2.
The Jays' lead wouldn't remain at three runs for very long.
Putkonen took over for Alvarez in the bottom of the fourth with one job to do. Keep the Jays close. Putkonen failed, miserably.
After retiring the first two Jays he faced, Davis singled and, of course, stole second. Putkonen went to a full count on Bautista before walking the Jays' number three hitter. Then came the dagger. Entering the game hitting .210 with four home runs, DeRosa took Putkonen's 0-1 belt-high fastball to the opposite field, over the 375 mark in right center for a gut punch three run bomb. DeRosa's fifth homer of the season extended the Jay's lead to 8-2, as you could hear TV's being shut off all across Tigers Nation.
At that point, my cable went out. I considered it a blessing. Or an omen. Or just Comcast being asses.
My TV returned at the end of the fifth, as I cursed the cable Gods. My internet fired back up in sixth, forcing me to continue with the recap. I hadn't missed much. The game was essentially over.
Are you sure it's not France Day instead of Canada Day? Cause the #Tigers busted out the white flags early in this one.— Russ McNamara (@RussMcNamara) July 1, 2013
Dickey was dealing, the Tigers weren't hitting and Putkonen allowing the three run home run had all but killed any shot at a comeback.
Top of five, the Tigers stranded Jackson at second after a one out double. Torii Hunter struck out, Cabrera popping up.
It had quickly become one of those games. The sort I dread recapping. The offense showing little signs of life, the pitching mediocre, the Tigers making mental mistakes while fans were losing their minds on the social networks. All while the Tigers were on their way to falling out of first place for the first time since May 23.
Putkonen settled down after allowing DeRosa's three run blast, facing just the minimum from that point. Putkonen ended the seventh having retired ten of the last 11 Jays, a double play in the sixth erasing the only base runner.
Dickey called it a Canada Day after seven full innings, having held the Tigers to six hits and two runs. Hard-throwing right-hander Steve Delabar took over and started blowing away Tigers. Delabar struck out the side, Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder all going down swinging.
Putkonen was pulled after four innings, one bad pitch marring what would have been an excellent performance. Unfortunately, that one bad pitch all but ended the game. Darin Downs replaced him in the eighth, pitching the final inning without incident.
Aaron Loup was on his way to wrapping up the win, only to be derailed by Infante. The Tigers' second baseman completed a marvelous game by taking Loup out to dead center. The solo home run was number six on the season for Infante, making the score look a tad more respectable at 8-3. "Look" being the operative word.
Loup quickly got back on track, striking out an overwhelmed Avisail Garcia to end the game.
Game over. Your final score is Blue Jays 8, Tigers 3, fans infuriated times ∞. Save for Infante and one swing by Fielder, the Tigers' offense was nowhere to be seen.
I hate saying the Tigers went through the motions, but it sure appeared as if the Tigers went through the motions. After they fell six runs down in the fourth, the Tigers could only come through with three hits, one a meaningless home run with two out in the ninth. Worse, they hacked their way to five strikeouts in the final two innings, making their late game issues all the more glaring.
Happy Canada Day, indeed.
When they're being interviewed and a manager says, "I'm not making excuses," you know exactly where he's going. Jim Leyland played the luck card in the post game:
"We're a little bit snake bitten right now."
"We're in a little funk right now."
Having gone 3-7 in their last ten and losing 6-of-7, the Tigers drop to just five games over the break even mark at 43-38, 1/2 game behind the idle Tribe.
Post Canada Day and pre-Independence Day, the Tigers and Jays play the second of their four game series Tuesday night. Hard luck Doug Fister (6-5, 3.50 ERA) toes the rubber for the Tigers, opposing Jays' right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 5.24 ERA). Fister has twirled quality starts in six of his last seven games, yet has won just once over that stretch. Making his fifth start of 2013, Wang is hoping to bounce back from a 1 2/3 inning, seven run pounding at the hands of Red Sox. First pitch at Rogers Centre is 7:07 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
From the "It's for the LULZ!" department: July 3 is "National Pray for A-Rod Day."
Please join the millions of Americans who will take time out of their busy schedules to think about Alex Rodriguez for ten to fifteen minutes. Remember, this isn’t about baseball, it’s about A-Rod.
The Blue Jays made a late change to their lineup. Edwin Encarnacion was scratched from the with left hamstring soreness. J.P. Arencibia took over Encarnacion's DH spot. Of course, Arencibia would have an RBI single.
Mark DeRosa opposite-field 3-run jack makes it 8-2 Jays. The Canadian gods (mostly beavers building poutine dams) are truly smiling today.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) July 1, 2013
Jose Alvarez has been trending downward since his brilliant first start against the Indians. Today, Alvarez was tagged for five runs, four earned, walking three and striking out four in just three innings. There was a silver lining to the performance.
At least the Tigers didn't waste a good start today.— tiger337 (@tiger337) July 1, 2013
Meanwhile, at Chris Iott's house:
Drives my wife crazy when I bring home random baseball stuff. So, of course I hung this in our house. pic.twitter.com/O5zNUeVtw3— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) July 1, 2013
Meanwhile, on Mlive:
"Easy 4 game sweep for jays. It will be like men against boys. What a joke this pathetic team is"— Dumb Shit on MLive (@dumbshitonmlive) July 1, 2013
Rod Allen on the Tigers' late inning struggles:
"No big hits. Nobody getting big hits."
Get big hits? OK, problem solved.
Miguel Cabera's 15 game hitting streak came to end in very quiet fashion, 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Immediately following the end the of the game, the Tigers announced Alex Avila would be activated off the 15-day DL. Avila will be in tomorrow's starting lineup. Bryan Holaday was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Omar Infante: At least Omar enjoyed Canada Day - 4-for-4 with a home run and double raised his average to .309.
Prince Fielder: A home run should count for something. At least this time around Fielder didn't wait 20 plus games between big flies.
Luke Putkonen: To Putkonen's credit, his four innings of work was huge, saving the bullpen after Alvarez's early exit. But...
Luke Putkonen: A three batter stretch for Putkonen all but killed the Tigers' chances at a comeback. The Tigers' offense folded up their tents after Putkonen served up single, walk and a dagger of a three run homer to DeRosa. What could have been a close game turned into a snoozer on one pitch.
Jose Alvarez: Has allowed eight earned runs in his last two starts. With four earned runs in just three innings today, his season ERA has creeped into ugly territory at 5.03. Good thing Anibal Sanchez appears to be on the verge of returning to the rotation.
The Tigers' offense: Futility, thy name is the Detroit Tigers' offense. Just seven hits and three runs, one run coming when the game was long over. Sign o' the late inning times - Of the last six Tigers outs, five were swinging K's.
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Rick Porcello and his six inning, three runs allowed quality start took the BYB PotG voting with 63%.
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