LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-1, on Thursday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, falling to 7-10 in Grapefruit League play.
Right-hander Casey Mize started and pitched into the fourth inning, but was pulled at 72 pitches (49 strikes) without making the final out. He gave up five runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out five batters. This spring, the 23-year-old prospect owns a 9.90 ERA. In four outings, Mize has allowed 11 earned runs on 12 hits and 10 walks with 12 K’s.
The Tigers got on the board in the sixth inning, thanks to a solo home run from JaCoby Jones. It was his second of spring training.
Left-hander Gregory Soto dominated the seventh inning, reaching 100 mph with his fastball. Battling for the closer role, he has a 1.93 ERA with six strikeouts in five appearances this spring.
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The good news: Mize’s command improved. He walked three batters in each of his first three outings this spring but only gave up one free pass to the Blue Jays. Through two innings, his pitches were they best they’ve been during camp, especially with his sinker. His four-seamer above the strike zone got belted by Alejandro Kirk for a homer in the second frame. In the third, Mize loaded the bases, yet got a sacrifice fly and double play to limit the damage to one run. The fourth inning, however, got away from him.
Mize used 40 sinkers, 11 sliders, seven splitters, seven curveballs and seven four-seam fastballs. He got seven swings-and-misses: four with his sinker, two with his slider and one with his four-seamer. His fastball averaged 96.5 mph and maxed out at 98.7 mph.
At the plate
Jones’ homer came on a 95.1 mph fastball from Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray in a 1-1 count. The ball came off the bat at 106.3 mph and traveled 406 feet over the left-center wall. He went 2-for-3, as the Tigers were limited to four hits and struck out nine times. The only walk was drawn by Robbie Grossman. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays collected 15 hits.
On the mound
Left-hander Miguel Del Pozo got the third out in the fourth inning to clean up Mize’s mess. Daniel Norris took over for the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up a two-run blast to Santiago Espinal in the sixth. Norris allowed three runs on four hits with three strikeouts. Soto pitched a perfect seventh, generating one strikeout without allowing a walk. The much-improved command and strike throwing was encouraging. His fastball averaged 99.5 mph and maxed out at 100.9 mph. Right-hander Jose Cisnero pitched a scoreless eighth. He is also in the mix to be the closer. Lefty Ian Krol, a bounce-back candidate from the independent leagues, tossed the ninth inning.
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1. Soto, 2. Jones, 3. Cisnero.
Saturday vs. Pittsburgh Pirates in Lakeland.