Two Detroit Tigers boost roster chances in 4-3 loss to Blue Jays; Julio Teheran out early

Detroit Free Press

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, on Monday at TD Ballpark, falling to 9-11 in Grapefruit League play. 

What happened

Trying to put the finishing touches on securing a roster spot, right-hander Julio Teheran started and made 30 pitches (21 strikes) across two innings. He departed early for precautionary reasons involved with back tightness. He gave up a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien but then retired the next six batters. The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning. The first two came on a throwing error from Semien, prompted by Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo’s steal with runners on the corners. Both Baddoo and JaCoby Jones scored on the error. Battling for the backup catcher job, Grayson Greiner crushed a 416-foot blast to straightaway center field, his first home run this spring. In the bottom of the eighth, Santiago Espinal broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI double to left field, giving the Blue Jays a one-run lead they wouldn’t squander.

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Starting off

Teheran got nine swings-and-misses, using his two-seam fastball (three), slider (four) and changeup (two). The 30-year-old logged three strikeouts and averaged 91.1 mph with his fastball. His third-inning departure with back tightness isn’t something he is concerned about. “We didn’t want to risk it,” Teheran said after his outing. “I feel fine. I came in and stretched it, and I told the trainer I wish we could re-enter so I could keep pitching. … There’s nothing we need to worry about. I know my body.” 

The Tigers were supposed to decide Monday, per the terms of Teheran’s minor-league contract, whether to add him to the 40-man roster or allow him to become a free agent. But the organization negotiated for more time, explaining they wanted to see Teheran’s start against the Blue Jays. Expect an official decision Tuesday or Wednesday. Right now, it seems likely Teheran will make the team, as well as the starting rotation.

“We got to make a decision on him pretty soon,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said after the game. “He’s done everything to put himself in a pretty good position to be a part of us moving forward. … He’s got a quick arm, velocity has ticked up a little bit from last season. There’s a lot of things trending in the right direction for him.”

At the plate

The Tigers managed seven hits, including two each from Robbie Grossman and Jeimer Candelario, but the highlight was Greiner’s home run. The Tigers didn’t draw a walk and struck out 13 times — a key reason for their demise. Prospect Riley Greene delivered a double off the right-center wall to begin the ninth inning, but he was left stranded: Baddoo popped out, Isaac Paredes grounded out and Dustin Garneau struck out.

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On the mound

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez entered in the third and launched three scoreless frames. His only blemish was a single by Rowdy Tellez. He didn’t allow a walk and picked up two strikeouts. Ramirez got six swings-and-misses (three with his slider) and averaged 92 mph with his fastball. Although he is on a minor-league contract, Ramirez is proving he could be useful at some point in 2021. This spring, the 30-year-old owns a 0.77 ERA across 11⅔ innings.

Right-hander Alex Lange allowed two runs in the sixth inning, on an RBI double from Semien and an ensuing RBI single by Bo Bichette. He was removed after 16 pitches and only one out. Lefty Ian Krol, despite allowing two hits, got strikeouts for the final two outs. Beau Burrows was efficient over the final two innings, but he took the loss.

[ Alex Lange’s road to Tigers paved by baseball bloodlines, incredible adoptive mother ]

Three stars

1. Ramirez, 2. Teheran, 3. Greiner.

[ Hinch: The art of elevated fastballs and attacking weaknesses ]

Next up

Tuesday vs. New York Yankees in Lakeland.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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