Jordan Zimmermann and Marcus Stroman were the opening day starting pitchers on March 28 when the Tigers began their season in Toronto. The two engaged in a pitchers’ duel with Zimmerman throwing six perfect innings, allowing just one hit and no walks in seven frames. Stroman matched him with seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits, and the Tigers won by a 2-0 score in 10 innings. The two would do battle again, this time in Comerica park with both teams headed due south for the rest of the summer.
Scouts from several major league clubs were in attendance for the rematch, but they weren’t there to see Jordan Zimmermann (unfortunately) or even Nick Castellanos. Stroman is one of the hottest tickets on the trade market this month, and he gave potential suitors something to see.
The Tigers threatened but did not score in each of the first two innings. Stroman stranded two runners in the opening frame and left Jeimer Candelario standing at third base in the second. The Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a leadoff double by Eric Sogard, a fielder's choice moving him to third, and a wild pitch by Zimmerman to make it 1-0 Toronto. The Jays doubled their lead in the second inning on a pair of singles by second generation major leaguers Vlad Guerrero, Jr. and Cavan Biggio and another fielder's choice.
After Zimmermann retired the side in order in the top of the third, JaCoby Jones led off the bottom of the inning with a double, but was thrown out attempting to advance on a sacrifice fly to left field. He beat the throw to third, but did a bunny hop on the bag and was tagged out mid hop. Miguel Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.
The rookies struck again in the fourth inning. Guerrero singled, Biggio walked, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Danny Jansen walked to load the bases with one out. Teoscar Hernandez blooped a single to shallow center to score Guerrero. Sogard singled in a pair of runs and Freddy Galvis “singled” past Niko Goodrum to score Hernandez to make it 6-0. Zimmermann walked Justin Smoak to load the bases again, and his night was finished.
Final line for Zimmermann: 3 2/3 innings, 6 earned runs, 7 hits, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks.
He was responsible for the three men left on base, but Zac Reininger came in and got Guerrero to fly out to center field to stop the bleeding.
Detroit put two more runners on base in the bottom of the fourth inning on a single by Christin Stewart and a botched double play ball by Sogard at second base, but Stroman retired the next two batters to keep the shutout alive.
Reininger retired the Jays in order in the fifth inning and Stroman did the same to the Tigers. Hernandez led off the top of the sixth by hitting a rope into the left field seats. A double by Galvis and an RBI single by Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. made it 8-0 for the Jays. When Reininger walked Smoak, Gardenhire walked to the mound and brought in Victor Alcántara, who inherited runners on first and second with one out.
Guerrero singled to left for his third hit of the game to drive in a run, and Stewart flipped the ball toward third base, wide of the bag before Jordy Mercer was looking as it rolled toward the Tiger dugout, allowing the runners to take second and third. Jansen singled in both runners to make it 11-0 for the visitors. Billy McKinney hit a routine grounder to Niko Goodrum at first base, who flipped the ball to Alcántara jogging to the base while taking a mental vacation, not in time. Hernandez grounded to third, forcing McKinney out at second to end the carnage.
Stroman worked around a two out single by Stewart to retire the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth frame. Blaine Hardy relieved Alcantara to start the seventh, giving up singles to Sogard and Galvis. A pair of ground outs to third base scored a run to make it an even dozen for the Blue Jays. Hardy got Guerrero to fly out to center field to end the inning.
After Stroman set the Tigers down in order in the seventh, Nick Ramirez relieved Hardy in the top of the eighth inning for Detroit. Ramirez struck out the side in the eighth frame, sending shock waves through the stadium. Sam Gaviglio came on in relief for Toronto in the bottom of the eighth, finishing Stroman’s evening with a line of 7 innings, 0 runs, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts and no walks.
The Tigers ruined the shutout when Jones singled for his third hit of the game, moved to second on defensive indifference, went to third on a ground out by Harold Castro, and scored on a ground out by Gordon Beckham. Brandon Dixon flew out to the warning track in right center field to end the inning.
Shane Greene was summoned for the ninth inning, not to waste the chance to showcase his talents for the scouts, despite the 12-1 score. Greene struck out Hernandez, got Sogard to ground out to shortstop, and struck out Brandon Drury. The Tigers’ all star closer carries a sparkling 1.04 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 37 strikeouts in 35 innings.
Gaviglio retired the Tigers in the ninth inning to put them out of their misery. The humiliating loss dropped the Tigers to 29-64 for the season. Their .312 winning percentage puts them on pace for a record of 51-111. Since May 1, the team has won 14 games and lost 50. They are four games behind the fourth place Kansas City Royals and within one half game of the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in baseball, and the first overall draft pick next June.
The Tigers will send former Blue Jay Daniel Norris to the mound tomorrow against Trent Thornton, who faced Detroit once this season, throwing five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Plenty of seats are available.