TORONTO — For the second game in a row, the Detroit Tigers failed to attack the left-handed starter on the mound.
On Friday, the Tigers pulled off an improbable extra-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre after lefty Robbie Ray frustrated them with eight innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits — without a walk — and struck out 11 batters.
It was more of the same Saturday, as the Tigers (59-66) were carved up by lefty Hyun Jin Ryu in a 3-0 loss. The 34-year-old Ryu flashed a reminder of why he finished top three in the NL and AL Cy Young races in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, respectively.
“He’s a pitch-maker out there,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He has every pitch imaginable and pretty good command. He’s one of the better left-handed pitchers you’ll face. He will disrupt timing with the best of them. That’s what he does, and he’s effective. … He’s the definition of a pitcher.”
The Blue Jays needed one swing — Randal Grichuk’s hack at a first-pitch slider in the second inning — to position themselves for a victory. Grichuk sent the slider from Tigers right-hander Wily Peralta over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.
“I know I had to pitch a good game because their starter was throwing the ball well,” Peralta said. “That mistake right there, I hung that pitch and gave up a homer. I’m a little bit disappointed. But overall, I just wanted to keep the team in the game.”
Ryu posted seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and one walk. He struck out five and threw 105 pitches (70 strikes) before giving way to lefty reliever Tim Mayza in the eighth. Mayza then retired the Tigers in order.
“It’s not always blaming the hitters when a pitcher throws well,” Hinch said.
Right-hander Jordan Romano worked around a leadoff single from Derek Hill in the ninth. Miguel Cabrera struck out swinging to end the game.
“He just had his command,” Hill said of Ryu. “Really, really good command. He could throw any pitch wherever he wanted today. Just got to tip the cap and keep battling out there. … He’s a great pitcher for a reason. He can control whatever pitch he wants in whatever count, so it keeps you a little off balance.”
The closest the Tigers came to scoring was in the fifth inning. Harold Castro dropped a one-out double into right field and advanced to third base on Zack Short’s groundout. But Dustin Garneau struck out swinging at Ryu’s fastball to end the threat.
Facing righty reliever Erasmo Ramirez in the eighth, Marcus Semien crushed his 30th homer to make it 3-0.
Chasing 500 home runs, Cabrera finished 0-for-3 with one walk and two strikeouts in Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays. He is 4-for-28 (.142) with one double, four RBIs, four walks and 10 strikeouts in eight games since hitting No. 499 on Aug. 11 in Baltimore.
In Friday’s win, Cabrera went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
“He’s not trying to homer every at-bat,” Hinch said. “If he was at 498, we wouldn’t be talking about this. He’s going to play baseball and is trying to put up good at-bats. We’ll take singles, doubles and we’re going to celebrate the next homer he hits.
“But we’re not all waiting around for him to hit it. We’re trying to win, and we’re trying to beat the Blue Jays. Miggy can be a big part of that by putting up good at-bats.”
The 38-year-old grounded out to third in his first at-bat Saturday, which came in the second inning. In the fourth, he grounded into an inning-ending double play — from shortstop Bo Bichette to Semien at second to first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Those three — Bichette, Semien and Guerrero — also delivered at the plate, going 4-for-11 with one home run, one RBI, one walk and three strikeouts.
In the seventh, Cabrera watched a 3-2 cutter dart outside the strike zone to draw a walk. He was cut down on the bases, though, when Jeimer Candelario grounded into a force out. The next batter, Harold Castro, grounded into an inning-ending double play: Semien to Bichette to Guerrero.
The Blue Jays turned three double plays.
Peralta does his job
The one mistake Peralta made was his slider to Grichuk, which hung in the strike zone just enough for the slugger to belt his 21st home run. Other than that pitch, the 32-year-old gave the Tigers a clean and efficient performance.
Peralta allowed two runs on six hits and one walk, striking out two batters.
“He did a great job of controlling contact,” Hinch said. “He was incredibly efficient. Our defense, for the most part, was well-positioned. They executed plays and converted a lot of ground-ball outs. He’ll get the same test next weekend. We play these guys again (at Comerica Park). Hopefully, he’ll do much of the same.”
The defense helped him with inning-ending double plays in the first and third innings. Both DPs were started by third baseman Jeimer Candelario, flipped to second baseman Harold Castro and turned to first baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Peralta threw 41 of 64 pitches for strikes, generating swings and misses with his split-changeup (four whiffs) and slider (two whiffs). But he only earned six called strikes.
He now has a 3.63 ERA over 12 games (11 starts) in 2021.
“I’m just having fun,” Peralta said. “I’m healthy. That’s the biggest thing for me. I had an arm problem before. Right now, I just feel 100% healthy. I’m trying to take advantage of every outing, do the best (I can) and have fun every time that I go to the mound.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.