Baseball’s highest scoring team found its rhythm in the 5th inning as the Blue Jays blasted the Tigers 10-5 to avoid a sweep of the three game weekend series.
Justin Verlander was cruising. Going into the 5th inning, JV had retired 12 of the previous 13 batters he had faced, striking out 5 of them. Danny Valencia led off the 5th and Verlander wasted no time getting ahead of him 0-2. Verlander (0-2, 6.75) struck out Valencia in their first meeting and appeared ready to K him again. Instead, Verlander lost him and issued a walk in what was undoubtedly the game changing at bat.
After failing to make solid contact with any of Verlander’s pitches in the first 4 innings, Verlander proceeded to give up multiple rockets in what turned out to be a 6-run 5th inning for the Blue Jays. Former Tigers farmhand Devon Travis laced a 2-run double, Jose Bautista and Justin Smoak went deep, just two batters apart, and what was a 1-0 deficit suddenly swelled to an insurmountable 7-0 spread.
Verlander ran into trouble in the 1st inning, allowing a leadoff bloop double to Jose Reyes and an RBI single to Josh Donaldson before he could record his first out. Verlander rebounded by inducing three straight “air” outs to escape further damage and merely spot the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead after a half an inning.
With Verlander facing adversity in that opening inning, he was forced to dial up his fastball to 95 MPH on 4 of his 20 pitches and 96 MPH on another. That extra effort came back to bite him when things fell apart in the 5th inning… or did it?
Verlander’s final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada faced little resistance over the first four innings and once he gained his 7-0 cushion, allowed the Tigers to rally in the bottom of the 5th, which was capped by a 2-run triple by Ian Kinsler. Estrada (6-4) was pulled after the 5th.
Bo Schultz came on in relief and faced J.D. Martinez to start off the 6th. Martinez greeted him with his 23rd homer of the season to pull the Tigers to within 7-3.
That’s as close as the Tigers would get. Drew VerHagen relieved Verlander and pitched a scoreless 6th but issued three straight walks to start the 7th before giving way to Alex Wilson. Two of those runners came around to give the Jays a 9-3 lead.
Anthony Gose tacked on a solo shot off Schultz, burning his former team for his 2nd long ball of the season.
MORE ON VERLANDER’S 4TH START
Justin Verlander was happy with his stuff and clinging to the positives from his outing, after the game. Verlander says he’s one stage away from becoming the JV he thinks he can be.
HOME RUN DERBY & ALL STAR FESTIVITIES
With the Tigers hitting the road for their final seven games before the All Star Break, the game and the home run derby were a conversation piece after Sunday’s loss.
J.D. Martinez was asked if he’d be interested in the home run derby if he was asked to participate…
Meanwhile, James McCann goes to bat for his teammates when it comes to the All Star reserves and pitchers that could come from the Tigers clubhouse
BY THE NUMBERS
- J.D. Martinez hit his team leading 23rd homer of the season in the 6th inning
- Martinez’ 23 homers are 2nd in the AL behind the 24 by Albert Pujols
- Martinez is now on pace to finish the season with 46 homers and 112 RBI
- During the 9 game homestand, Martinez hit 6 homers, going 14-for-37 (.378)
- In his last 12 games, Martinez has homered 10 times (.367, 18-for-49) and has 21 RBI
- In his last 23 games, Martinez has homered 14 times (.360, 22-for-89) and has 33 RBI
- Ian Kinsler‘s triple capped an impressive 9-game homestand (.333, 14-for-42)
- Prior to the homestand, Kinsler was mired in a 6-for-43 slump (.140) over his previous 11 games.
- Anthony Gose extended his hitting streak to 5 games with his 6th inning home run.
- The Tigers have reached the midway point season:
- The Tigers are 41-40 after Sunday’s loss, having officially reached the middle of their 162 game regular season.
- The Tigers went 4-5 on their 9 game homestand and wrapped up the first half with a 22-23 record at home
- The Tigers are off to their worst 81-game (first half) start to a season since the 2012 team went 39-42 at that same point. Unlike the 2012 team, which went on to win the division and reach the World Series, the current 2015 Tigers will be without Miguel Cabrera for the next 6 weeks
- The Tigers grounded into their 86th double play of the season which puts them on pace to ground into 172 by the end of the season. The 1990 Red Sox own the record, doing so 174 times.
- After Sunday’s game, the Tigers are now:
- 6-28 when opponent scores first
- 3-29 when trailing after the 6th
- 1-34 when trailing after the 7th
- 0-34 when trailing after the 8th
- 22-13 in day games
- 8-5 on Sundays
- 4-6 vs. AL East
- 28-6 when scoring 5+ runs
- 4-28 when opponent out hits the Tigers
- 0-4 in Justin Verlander starts
TIGERS HEADING WEST
The Tigers wrapped up their 4-5 homestand on Sunday and flew out to Seattle after the game where they’ll embark on a 7-game road trip leading into the All Star Break, wrapping it up with a 4-game set in Minnesota over the weekend.
Alfredo Simon (7-5, 3.94) will try to right the ship after a poor 3-game stretch has seen his ERA bloom from 2.58 to 3.94. In those 3 games, Simon’s 18 runs over 14.2 IP. To help counter the left-handed heavy hitting M’s lineup out of the bullpen, the Tigers will bring LHP Ian Krol w/ them to Seattle while VerHagen was optioned back to Toledo after Sunday’s game. Ausmus said that move was predetermined and not a reflection of VerHagen’s rough 7th inning on Sunday.
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 6.61) will counter for the the Mariners. Iwakuma is coming off the disabled list to make his first start since he suffered a strained lat muscle in April. Iwakuma made three starts in April, allowing 4 runs in each of those starts.
A few scouts should be on hand to see Iwakuma’s start on Monday. He’s been the subject of trade rumors do to the Mariners’ deficit in the AL West and his addition creating a log jam in the starting rotation.
Follow Denny Kapp on Twitter: @DennyKapp