Another bad day for the position players both on the field and at the plate produced a lifeless effort behind rookie Garrett Hill as the Tigers lost 4-1 to the Jays on Sunday.
Jose Berrios got the start for the Blue Jays and he was strong in the first inning. With velocity ticking up above 95 mph, which is a little hotter than normal, Berrios struck out Riley Greene and Victory Reyes, then locked up in a nine-pitch AB against his brother-in-law, Javier Báez. The Tigers’ shortstop was in pull mode and peppered the upper decks down the left field line with multiple fly balls with home run distance, all of them hooking just foul. Eventually, he worked a walk, and Berrios struck out Miguel Cabrera for the third out instead.
As for Garrett Hill, he was a little erratic in the first, but a double play ball off the bat of Alejandro Kirk, after walking Vladimir Guerrero Jr., cleaned up the inning for him.
Harold Castro led off the second with a solid single, but the next three hitters put the ball in play for outs.
In the bottom half, the Jays got a one-out single from Teoscar Hernandez. Lourdes Gurriel grounded out, but a very dangerous Matt Chapman turned and smoked a hanging slider to left for a two-run homer, his fourth long ball of the series. Maybe stop pitching to that guy.
A pair of good changeups got Hill a strikeout of Raimel Tapia to end the inning. However, the Tigers hitters didn’t give him much rest. They remained aggressive against Berrios but nothing was dropping in, producing a seven-pitch frame for the Jays right-hander.
Hill was up to the task, however. He continued to try to jam the Blue Jays and got four fly balls in the inning. One of them was misplayed by Robbie Grossman in left off the bat of Guerrero for a rare error, but Hill got Kirk to pop out to end the inning.
Javier Báez led off the fourth, and this time he got a sinker down the middle and drilled it to right field instead. Better direction. The shot sailed over the wall for his 10th home run of the year, and it was 2-1 Jays. Miguel Cabrera and Harold Castro lined out, and Candelario grounded out to complete the Tigers’ half of the inning.
An error from Báez on a Bo Bichette pop-up didn’t start the bottom of the fourth well., but the Tigers’ shortstop and Willi Castro, getting a rare start at second base, turned a double play on a Hernandez ground ball to erase it. Gurriel and Chapman followed with singles, but Tapia grounded out to end the inning.
The Tigers, who have allowed 12 unearned runs in the past five games, have two errors in four innings today.
— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) July 31, 2022
Robbie Grossman started off the fifth with a double, but Tucker Barnhart got sawed off by a changeup for a soft out, and Willi Castro struck out swinging. That left it up to Riley Greene to bring the runner home. Berrios’ changeup did its thing again, catching Greene off balance and coaxing an easy ground ball that Berrios almost threw away. Guerrero was able to snag it and keep his foot on the bag, turning the Tigers away from another scoring opportunity. Pretty bad series of AB’s there to not even advance Grossman from second.
Hill got Danny Jansen to ground out to start the bottom half, but walked Biggio. He then threw away a pickoff attempt for the Tigers’ third error on the day. That moved Biggio to second, where Guerrero brought him home with a line drive double to left. Kirk grounded out, sending Guerrero to third with two outs. Bichette followed suit, smoking a double up the left-center field gap for a double of his own to score Guerrero. Hernandez flew out to end the inning, but it was now 4-1 Jays.
Garrett Hill gave the Tigers the innings they needed but continues to struggle to get any whiffs at all. Tough to make a living that way against big league hitters. His line ended up 5 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, and 1 SO.
The Tigers went quickly in the sixth, and Jason Foley took over from Hill in the bottom half, retiring the side pretty easily as well. The offense was still sleepwalking against Berrios in a very getaway day type performance in the top of the seventh, going down in order again. Alex Lange came on in the bottom half and immediately dusted Jansen and Biggio, finishing the latter with a fearsome 98 mph heater at the bottom of the zone that froze him. That left Guerrero and he too went down on strikes, whiffing at Lange’s deadly power curve.
Let’s just say that even if a few trades come to pass, the future of the Tigers’ bullpen is very bright.
In dire need of some offense, A.J. Hinch sent Eric Haase out to lead off in the eighth inning, replacing Tucker Barnhart. Haase battled lefty Tim Mayza through an eight-pitch plate appearance but lined out to left. Willi Castro grounded out to first for the second out, and Greene tapped one back to the mound for the final out.
With this one looking like an unlikely candidate for a comeback, Hinch turned to Angel De Jesus in the bottom of the eighth. The right-hander got two ground outs on two pitches to start things off well. Hernandez reached on yet another Báez throwing error. That was the fourth of the game for the Tigers and the second for the Tigers’ shortstop. This is starting to look like the yips when Báez goes to his backhand and turns to throw to first. Everything is in the dirt. Lourdes Gurriel flew out to end the inning, so this one didn’t come back to bite the Tigers.
Jordan Romano took over to close it out for the Jays, and he had an easy time of it. Reyes struck out, Báez popped out, and Miguel Cabrera struck out to end it.
The Tigers now head to Minnesota with Tarik Skubal scheduled to start on Monday night. It looks as though Matt Manning will return to the Tigers rotation on Tuesday. Perhaps we’ll see some trades made by that point as the deadline remains the quietest in terms of deals or even rumors that we’ve ever seen.