A scoreless pitchers' duel for eight innings ended with a flurry of ninth-inning runs. After both starters had exited the game, the Toronto Blue Jays broke a 0-0 game wide open by scoring five, holding on to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3. The Tigers plated three runs in the bottom of the ninth after falling behind 5-0, but it just wasn't enough.
The Tigers had snapped out of a losing streak by winning 3-of-4. Since their last victory in Seattle, Detroit has now lost three straight.
For a second straight game, Anibal Sanchez was brilliant. For a second straight game, a lack of run support led to a no-decision. Sanchez was pulled after seven innings having not allowed a run, holding the Blue Jays to two hits, striking out five and not walking a soul.
Brad Ausmus put the game in the hands of his bullpen, who proceeded to drop the ball. Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless eighth, but the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion in the ninth. Joe Nathan (L, 2-2) continued to cost the Tigers games, charged with four runs in just 1/3 inning of work, leaving the bases loaded when he was yanked. Ian Krol served up a sacrifice fly, and Al Alburquerque finished off the damage when his dished up a three-run home run, though two of those runs were hung on Nathan.
Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison was just as good as his counterpart and also suffered the same no-decision fate. He went seven full innings, shutting out the Tigers on three hits, striking out seven and not issuing a walk. Dustin McGowan (W, 3-2), the second of four Blue Jays pitchers, would earn the win by pitching a scoreless eighth. Closer Casey Janssen pitched to one batter, earning his ninth save.
The first eight innings were scoreless, all eight runs coming in the ninth inning. On the night, the Blue Jays had five hits to the Tigers four.
In the ninth, Jose Bautista had a RBI single and Kevin Pillar drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. But it would be Brett Lawrie who came through with the big hit of the ninth, a three-run homer which gave the Blue Jays insurance runs they would ultimately need.
J.D. Martinez's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth was all the offense the Tigers could muster.
After the game, no one was thrown under the bus. Nathan took all questions, saying he feels great and is throwing too well to believe his struggles will continue..
"Fortunately I don't give a [blank]. They can boo me all they want. I am my own toughest critic."
This time around Nathan didn't assign blame. But the Blue Jays were more than happy to point out Andrew Romine's defensive lapse in the ninth played a huge part in their win.
"I don't know what happened on my ground ball. That was definitely reachable. (Nathan) had some bad luck." -Bautista on single past Romine— Denny Kapp (@DennyKapp) June 4, 2014
"That was first ground ball I've hit so weakly that manages to get through but I got a hit and RBI out of it so not complaining" -Bautista— Denny Kapp (@DennyKapp) June 4, 2014
Seems there's more than enough blame to go around. Might as well add the Tigers' flaccid offense to the list, too. Brad Ausmus was at a loss to explain it.
"The energy was there, we just didn't score."
Until the Tigers start hitting, it won't matter if Nathan gets his issues sorted out. all the Tigers' flaws have come to a head over the past three weeks. Ausmus and (especially) Dave Dombrowski know they have work to do so the Tigers get back on the World Series path.
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The first 1 1/2 innings were completely uneventful, Anibal Sanchez not allowing a hit. The Tigers would threaten for the one of the few times against Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison in the bottom of the second.
Victor Martinez led off by singling off the right field wall, taking second on Don Kelly's one-out single. That's as far as the rally would go, Austin Jackson and Alex Avila unable to drive in the run from second.
Sanchez found his first bit of trouble in the top of the third, only to be helped out considerably be Miguel Cabrera's defense. Juan Francisco led off the inning by doubling into the the left center field gap. Dioner Navarro followed with a ground ball to first. Instead of taking the easy out at the first base bag, Cabrera fired across the diamond, nailing Francisco trying to advance to third.
Sanchez proceeded to strike out the next two Blue Jays, ending what had been a promising inning for Toronto. The game was showing all the signs of being tense, low scoring and very quick. Two dominant pitchers were making for a game with a complete lack of offense.
Edwin Encarnacion doubled off Sanchez after two were down in the top of the fourth, only to be stranded on Adam Lind's liner to right.
Unfortunately, the Tigers were having the same issues with their bats, unable to string any sort of rally together against Hutchison. He had retired six in a row until Martinez snuck a single through the shift with one out in the bottom half of the fourth. So Hutchison just went and started another out streak, retiring J.D. Martinez and Kelly to end the inning.
Through four innings, the pitchers' duel was well underway.
The fifth was no different. Both the Blue Jays and Tigers would go down in order, 1-2-3. The game was speedily heading into the sixth, still a scoreless tie.
By tossing a 1-2-3 sixth, Sanchez had retired seven in a row and 12-of-13. But his pitch count of 92 bore close watch. The most Sanchez had thrown in a game this season was in his last start, 111 pitches in 8 1/3 innings against the A's.
The Tigers entered the bottom of the sixth not having scored in their previous 16 innings. Make it 17 innings without a score and eight straight retired by Hutchison when set the side down in order.
Sanchez needed 15 pitches to end the seventh, the Blue Jays going down in order for a third consecutive inning. Spending the game in beast mode, a pitch count of 107, showing no signs of being tired and at first blush having at least one more inning in him, Sanchez was the recipient of Brad Ausmus' Handshake of Doom.
Speaking of doom, it was quite likely Sanchez would be doomed to a second straight no-decision.
So help me, if the Tigers waste another brilliant Anibal start.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 4, 2014
A Sanchez no-decision it would be. Hutchison set the Tigers down in order, his consecutive out streak reaching 11.
Joba Chamberlain took over from Sanchez The Tigers' setup man picked up where Sanchez left off, retiring the side on nine pitches.
John Gibbons made the same move as Ausmus, removing his lights-out starter after seven innings and 105 pitches. Dustin McGowan took over, and retired the Tigers ion order.
Heading into the ninth, 13 Blue Jays and 14 Tigers had gone down in order. That would soon change.
Top of nine, it would be up to Joe Nathan to keep the out streak alive. Of course, the first thing Nathan would do is walk the lead-off man, speedy Anthony Gose. It was the first walk issued by either team.
The inning and game then immediately entered a Nathan-led death spiral for the Tigers.
Gose got a huge jump off Nathan, stealing second as the pitch bounced into the dirt and past Avila. Jose Reyes advanced Gose to third by slapping a single to left.
Runners on the corners and still no one out, Nathan induced a pop up off the bat of Melky Cabrera. But the Blue Jays had their two big boppers due up in Jose Bautista and Encarnacion.
Bautista didn't hit the ball hard, but Romine went after it as if it were a ticking time bomb inside a flaming bag of crap. The ground ball rolled under his glove and into center for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.
I've run out of expletives.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 4, 2014
Runners on the corners and still no one out. Nathan appeared to have picked off Reyes, but the call went the other way. Ausmus challenged the out call, but it was upheld.
Nathan finished his implosion by walking Encarnacion, loading the bases. Ausmus had no choice but to pull the Tigers' prized free-agent pick up, replacing Nathan with Ian Krol as an upset crowd let their displeasure be known.
RT @BigAlBYB: Can Joe Nathan throw himself under the bus? Asking for a 3rd baseman.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 4, 2014
Krol faced one batter, allowing the second run to score on pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar's sacrifice fly to center.
Down 2-0, Ausmus went to Al Alburquerque. In response, Brett Lawrie went deep. He smashed an Alburquerque slider over the scoreboard in right center, Torii Hunter doing his ridiculous deke as the ball carried into the first row.
Lawrie's three-run bomb all but put the game out of reach, the Blue Jays scoring five runs against three Tigers relievers.
Up 5-0, Gibbons went to Steve Delabar out of the bullpen. He sandwiched walks to Ian Kinsler and Cabrera around a Hunter line out.
The Alburquerque home run really came into play when J.D. Martinez's two-out liner cleared the left field wall just inside the foul pole. The three run homer made it a 5-3 game. But it was little more than a last gasp before dying.
Gibbons brought closer Casey Janssen into the game to nail down the final out. Ausmus countered with, well, no one. With the younger Martinez in the starting lineup, the Tigers have absolutely no bench power. So Ausmus allowed Kelly to bat. I didn't say "allowed Kelly to hit" being he struck out on three pitches.
Your final score is Blue Jays 5, Tigers 3.
Somehow, a 5-3 loss feels so much worse than a 5-0 loss. Sigh.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 4, 2014
Game two's mound matchup has knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5-4, 4.30 ERA) taking on Rick Porcello (8-2, 3.82 ERA).
Dickey's knuckler is as unpredictable as ever. Coming off a four start stretch with a 3-1 record and 3.00 ERA, Dickey was rocked by the Royals in his last appearance for five runs and ten hits in just five innings.
Porcello's eight wins has him tied for second in the AL behind the Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle. He bounced back from his worst start of the season (12 H, 7 R versus Texas) to beat the A's in last appearance. Despite a season-high six walks, Porcello earned a W by allowing just two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Wednesday night's first pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Over his last two games and 15 1/3 innings, Anibal Sanchez has an 0.59 ERA. He's allowed just one run and five hits, striking out 14 while walking one. The result? Two no-decisions.
Anibal Sanchez has allowed 1 earned run in 15 1/3 IP in his last 2 starts Joe Nathan has allowed 6 earned runs in 1/3 IP in those 2 games— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 4, 2014
In four starts since returning from the DL, Anibal Sanchez has a 2-0 record with a 1.32 ERA and 22 strikeouts.
Including tonight, Joba Chamberlain hasn't allowed a run in his last ten appearances, lowering his ERA to 2.59. He's allowed three runs, two earned, over his last 16 outings.
Detroit's offense went 19 2/3 innings without scoring a run. J.D. Martinez's home run was the first time any Tiger had crossed the plate since Saturday's seventh inning in Seattle. Over their last 27 innings,. the Tigers have scored five runs total.
Anibal Sanchez: Needs to sue the Tigers' offense for a lack of support. He's allowed just one run in his last two outings combined. The Tigers LOST BOTH GAMES.
J.D. Martinez: Supplied all the Tigers' offense with one ninth-inning swing.
Joba Chamberlain: Another scoreless outing for Chamberlain. Expect the calls wanting "Chamberlain for closer" to get louder by the day.
Joe Nathan: The fan base is ready to run Nathan out of town. In his last three outings, the Tigers were ahead in two and tied in the other. Nathan charged with eight runs in those outings, two of those games turned into Tigers' losses.
Andrew Romine: At this point, Romine's glove is not nearly good enough to justify keeping his sorely lacking bat in the lineup. His inability to make a play on Bautista's ninth-inning ground ball drove home just how bad things are at the shortstop position for the Tigers.
The Tigers offense: Five runs in three games. When Kinsler, Cabrera and Martinez aren't hitting, no one has been capable to pick up the slack.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
GAME 53 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
The loss to Seattle was so mailed in, I didn't even bother. It was a team loss in the truest sense.