Tigers 14, Blue Jays 11: Vierling walks it off to win slugfest

Bless You Boys

In hindsight, the 11:35 a.m. start time was likely an omen for the circus of a baseball game that took place on the Roku Channel Sunday morning/afternoon between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays.

Twenty-five runs crossed in total, but the only ones anyone in Detroit will be talking about for the next 24 hours are the last three, which came off the bat of Matt Vierling for a 14-11 walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. It was Vierling’s second homer of the day, Detroit’s fourth as a team and the seventh between both clubs. In other words, the ball was flying at Comerica Park on Sunday.

At first, it seemed like the Tigers would run away with it. An implosion from the bullpen flipped the mood entirely, but the magical City Connect uniforms refused to let the Tigers lose. Comeback initiated. Comeback complete.

The first eight innings

The Tigers plated four early to take the lead in the second. Spencer Torkelson got things started with a hard-hit double to left-center, then moved over to third on Wenceel Pérez’s base hit. Javier Báez drove in both men with another double to the gap in left. Javy got a 2-0 changeup below the zone, but dropped his bat enough to barrel it — 111.1 mph off the bat.

Jake Rogers tried to keep the carousel going with a double, but Báez held up at third base. Andy Ibáñez came through with a soft-hit single that fell in front of the left fielder, scoring Báez and Rogers (on a nice slide into home).

Big innings on offense are supposed to be followed by shutdown innings to help build momentum, but the Tigers aren’t that team and Casey Mize is not that guy.

Three straight singles loaded the bases for Mize in the top of the third, but he had a prayer answered when Daniel Vogelbach sent a 106-mph liner right into the glove of Ibáñez at second. The ball got there so fast, there was no chance for Bo Bichette to get back to first before getting doubled up.

A soft groundout to first ended the threat, but Mize didn’t look good here; lots of contact, not a lot of deception. Fortunately, Spencer Torkelson was on a heater to back up the other former No. 1 draft pick on the roster and blasted his fourth homer of the season over the left-field wall. 5-0, Tigs.

The middle-middle fastballs finally caught up with Mize in the top of the fourth. Cavan Biggio sent a no-doubter over the wall in right field, scoring Ernie Clement and making 5-2.

Mize got the hook in the fourth after giving up a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He got to face one more batter to set up the lefty-on-lefty matchup between Joey Wentz and Vogelbach, but Justin Turner got up to pinch hit for Vogy once the change was made.

Turner delivered with an RBI groundout to first. Guerrero moved over to third on the final out made by Mize.

Detroit came to score, though. Carson Kelly undid all of Toronto’s scoring with a three-run homer to left. Mark Canha hit his 10th double of the season and Gio Urshela walked before trotting home to greet Kelly.

Both teams scored in the sixth. Toronto cut the deficit back to three with a sacrifice fly from Davis Schneider and an RBI single from Guerrero — his fourth hit of the day. Matt Vierling hit Detroit’s third homer of the day to make it 9-5 heading into the final three frames.

Like a good boxing match, the back-and-forth nature of the game led to one side finally running out of steam. Unfortunately, Detroit’s bullpen blew up worse, giving up the lead to Toronto in the eighth.

A five-run frame for the Blue Jays began with a walk and a single off Tyler Holton. Jason Foley came in and got out No. 2, but Bichette singled in both runners to make it a one-run game. Turner singled to put two men on, and then Daulton Varsho launched an 0-2 meatball right down the middle for a three-run homer to right, putting Toronto ahead for the first time all day, 11-9.

Detroit did not fold in the face of adversity. Mark Canha tied the game up with a clutch 2-RBI single to the opposite field, setting up the walk-off opportunity in the ninth. Credit to Mason Englert for holding the tie in the top of the ninth.

Box Score

Up next

The Tigers are off on Memorial Day, before welcoming in the Pittsburgh Pirates for two games. LHP Tarik Skubal will take on a budding ace in RHP Jared Jones in what should be an excellent matchup on Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. ET

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