After losing their way on a 3-6 trip, the Toronto Blue Jays hope to get back on track at home Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.
The Blue Jays raised enthusiasm for their playoff hopes with a 9-2 homestand before departing on the trip that ended with an 8-5 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, the result of another bullpen failure.
“At the end of the day, pitching and defense wins here, and one of the reasons we did so well at home is because our pitching was outstanding and our bullpen did a good job,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “So we have to get back to pitching well. That’s how you’re going to win games.”
The Tigers had their own bullpen problems on Thursday. They finished a 1-5 homestand with a 13-10 loss to the Los Angeles Angels despite taking a 10-2 lead into the sixth inning. Miguel Cabrera, still seeking his 500th home run, was 2-for-5 with four RBIs for Detroit.
“This loss stings,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who was ejected in the fifth inning. “This is a bad loss. We were in control of the game. We let this one get away from us.”
Left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-2, 4.57 ERA) will start for Detroit on Friday, with left-hander Robbie Ray (9-5, 2.88) going for Toronto.
During their trip, the Blue Jays lost center fielder George Springer (left knee sprain) and right-hander Ross Stripling (oblique) and designated reliever Rafael Dolis for assignment.
“He just never had good command this year,” Montoyo said. “His stuff is still there, but he pitched from behind a lot.”
Toronto promoted infielder Kevin Smith on Wednesday and reinstated reliever Tim Mayza (elbow inflammation) from the injured list.
Mayza should help the bullpen that was supposedly improved by trades. Brad Hand, in particular, has had problems, going 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in eight outings since he was acquired from Washington.
“Most of the guys in the bullpen are kind of struggling right now,” Montoyo said. “I trust in Brad Hand to make an adjustment because he’s been around, he’s been a closer before, and again, he’s been good and bad. Of course (Wednesday), he was not good — that’s a fact. But I trust that he can make an adjustment and do better next outing, for sure.”
Ray has faced Detroit once in his career — May 9, 2017, when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He took the loss, allowing five runs, five hits and five walks while striking out eight in five innings.
Alexander has one career start against Toronto — July 21, 2019, when he allowed one run, three hits and one walk in seven innings but did not factor in the decision.
The Tigers put catcher Eric Haase (abdominal strain) on the IL Thursday and acquired catcher Dustin Garneau for cash from the Colorado Rockies.
“We have capable guys and can get (Haase) right over the next seven or eight days,” Hinch said. “Going into a series in Toronto, we want to have a full team. It was uncertain whether or not he was going to be able to play in the next couple of days. That’s just getting too long to wait.”
Detroit also reinstated outfielder Daz Cameron (sprained toe) from the IL before Thursday’s game.
–Field Level Media