Javier Báez takes brother-in-law deep, but Blue Jays’ Jose Berrios stymies Tigers

Detroit News

Toronto — The first three games of this series were spirited and competitive. Sunday, not so much.

Blue Jays’ right-hander Jose Berrios took a lot of the starch out of Tigers, allowing only a home run to his brother-in-law in seven innings as Toronto won for the third time in four games, 4-1 at Rogers Centre.

Berrios’ battles with his brother-in-law, Javier Báez, provided most of the joy on this day, at least as far as the Tigers were concerned.

BOX SCORE: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 1

“Just trying to have some fun and teach our kids,” Báez said. “They were out here watching, seeing the fun we have and how good we compete against each other. And how close we are outside.

“Our families were together today. They were really happy they got to see us.”

In the first inning, Báez drove three balls deep down the left-field line. All three hooked foul, two of them just outside the foul pole.

“I was seeing the ball really good,” Báez said. “I told him I was very focused. And knowing his pitches and having that trust at the plate felt good.”

Berrios missed on a 2-2 pitch and Báez started toward first base thinking he’d drawn a walk. Berrios laughed and motioned for him to get back in the box. Báez sheepishly regathered himself, got back into the box and earned the fourth ball.

Then in the fourth inning, Báez hit a 2-1 two-seam fastball over the wall in right-center for his 10th home run of the season.

“I was focused on the fastball,” he said. “I was a little late on it but I got all barrel and it went out.”

The Tigers only managed two other hits, so Báez won the battle but Berrios won the war.

“I would say, since he struck me out at home and I got him here, it’s 1-1,” Báez said.

On whole, this game was no laughing matter for the Tigers. After giving up 12 unearned runs in the previous five games, they made four more errors in this one. Miraculously, none directly impacted the scoring.

“It was (crappy),” manager AJ Hinch said. “It was inexcusable. Those are sloppy plays that need to be made.”

Báez made two errors, dropping a popup in shallow center and making a throwing error in the first. Robbie Grossman dropped a fly ball in left and rookie starter Garrett Hill made an errant pick-off throw to first base.

“None of us are perfect,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “We’re out there busting our ass trying to make plays. Some things go your way and some things don’t.”

With the trade deadline looming, Hinch was asked if distraction was an issue.

“Those aren’t distractions,” he said. “We can make those plays. These are big boys. They can make plays.”

Hill managed to pitch around three of the errors and soldier through five innings. But the Blue Jays hit him hard. They put 20 balls in play against him with an average exit velocity of 93.7 mph.

“He has to stay aggressive,” Hinch said. “His outings have been similar in that he’s had a hard time with two outs, hard time one or two bad pitches that leave the yard. These are tough lineups, but at this level, you are going to run into tough lineups.

“I think that he can take out of it that his stuff will play. He got some funny swings and some soft contact. But every pitch matters with him.”

Hill left a slider over the middle of the plate to one of the hottest hitters in baseball in the second inning and Matt Chapman destroyed it — 108 mph off the bat, two-run home run to left.

It was Chapman’s fourth home run of the series and 20th on the season.

“He’s on fire right now,” Barnhart said. “I don’t really know what to do against him right now.”

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A one-out walk to Cavan Biggio started Hill’s trouble in the fifth, that and his errant pick-off throw to first that advanced Biggio to second.

“That was detrimental because it freed up Vlad,” Hinch said.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Bo Bichette both ripped RBI doubles before Hill got out of the inning.

“That’s how you learn the most, through failure,” Hill said. “I think we’re getting close. I’m just trying to take what I can from each start and work to prevent some of these things from happening in the next one. That’s all you can do, really.”

The Tigers finish July at 41-62, 21 games under .500 for the first time this season.


Twitter: @cmccosky

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