The atmosphere at Comerica Park on Friday night was raucous and strange. Raucous because Blue Jays’ fans made their presence felt with authority, while Tigers’ fans slowly grew silent and evacuated the building as their bullpen sucked most ponderously. Strange because the normally pristine confines of the Tigers’ outfield looked as though a herd of buffalo had stampeded through it during the All-Star break. In the end though, it was still the same listless brand of baseball, as the Tigers lost 7-2.
Justin Verlander continued his vexing 2017 campaign with a decent outing, but again showcased the erratic command that has plagued him this season. Both he, and Blue Jays’ starter, Aaron Sanchez, were inefficient, but kept things clean through the first four innings.
Verlander allowed a solo shot to Steven Souza Jr. in the fifth, and that should have been all. Unfortunately, a routine drive to right off the bat of Kevin Pillar clanged off the heel of J.D. Martinez’ glove, leaving Pillar at second. After a groundout moved Pillar to third, Jose Bautista brought him home on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
The Tigers answered back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Singles from Jose Iglesias and Alex Presley had runners on first and third when Alex Avila lined out to third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson tried to double off Presley at first, but instead hit Presley. The ball skipped toward the stands, and Iglesias sauntered home to make it 2-1. However, the Tigers had already squandered several chances to get to Sanchez early, and they mustered nothing with the bats against the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
In the sixth, Verlander lost his rhythm after punching out Josh Donaldson, walking the next two hitters. Shane Greene came on and got a flyout and then a hard groundball that should’ve ended the inning. Nick Castellanos made a great diving stop, but Miguel Cabrera appeared to stumble covering first and couldn’t handle the one-hop throw. The bases were loaded, and after a long battle, Kevin Pillar drew a walk that put the Jays up 3-1 before Greene escaped the jam.
Warwick Saupold came on in the seventh and promptly surrendered a solo shot to Jose Bautista. Saupold struggled to find the zone, laboring through a tough inning before getting the double-play ball he needed off the bat of Kendrys Morales to escape a one-out jam.
Blaine Hardy then came on and completely handed over the game to the Blue Jays. After getting one out in the 8th, Hardy surrendered a single, and then walked three of the next four hitters before crumbling entirely. Josh Donaldson’s two-run single ended Hardy’s night, and any chance of a Tigers’ comeback.
THE WALKS HAVE GOT TO STOP. This team is its own worst enemy. Pair that with total futility with runners on base, and the specter of teams pitching around Justin Upton to get to Miggy, and you’ve got another lousy night at the ballpark for Tigers’ fans.
Good job on that shot.
Justin Upton’s two singles and a walk were somewhat roar-worthy. Andrew Romine doubled and added a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth, filling in admirably for Ian Kinsler.
Blaine Hardy: No further explanation needed.
Miguel Cabrera: Another five LOBsters as the big man continues to struggle to produce with runners on.
Nick Castellanos: Made a few nice plays at third, but another listless 0-for-4 on the night.
Stats and Info
-Ten walks from Tigers’ pitching tonight set a new season high. It marked the fourth game in which the staff has walked eight or more hitters. The high times are over, Rich Dubee.
Last time the Tigers made an in-season change at pitching coach (July 3, 2011), had a 4.39 staff ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 78 HRs, 6.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 15, 2017