TORONTO – Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez put his hands near his head, indicating his frustration, in the fifth inning. A foul, wrongly ruled, puts a runner in the center of the scoring, resulting in an RBI double for Vladimir Guerrero Jr and a visible irritation for Baez.
The Tigers went into Sunday with 12 unearned runs over their past five games, and at the end of the series on Sunday – a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Center – the defense made four fouls but all four runs were won. The offense recorded three hits and one walk.
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“It was bad,” manager AJ Hinch said of the defense. “These are my thoughts. They were unjustified. Those are dirty plays to play.”
Detroit’s defense has been choppy all season, facing the worst attack in the league and struggling with an injury early in the rotation. The Tigers (41-62), losing in three of four games, missed out on win-win matches during their trip to Toronto ahead of Tuesday’s trading deadline. Next, the team travels to Minnesota for a three-game series with the twins, starting Monday.
“It’s frustrating,” Bayes said. “But at the same time, we lost yesterday and got more hits than the other team. Things swing back and forth. We are looking to improve and play defense.”
Baez is not without faults on Sundays.
He raised his total fouls to a team-high 15 this season with a two-fault performance.
The former Golden Glove winner was responsible for the second foul, starting the fourth inning by calling everyone from a shallow center pop, then dropping the ball. Left player Robbie Grossman is responsible for the first foul with two on the third. The ball from Guerrero’s racket should have finished the inning, but Grossman didn’t press his gauntlet hard enough, letting the ball out. In the eighth inning, Baez scored his second foul, throwing a ball into the dirt that got past first baseman Harold Castro.
We’re trying (to train him),” Hinch said. “He’s been doing this his whole career, and we’re trying. He can play those plays. He knows it. Part mental, part physical. But they are plays that have to be composed.”
Despite these errors, the Blue Jays did not score in the third and fourth rounds. But Toronto’s strong attack took advantage of Garrett Hill’s blunder in the fifth and ended up scoring two runs – on the RBI doubles of Guerrero and Bo Bichette.
“We can make these plays,” Hinch said. “The one that was very harmful was the pickpocket. I hit him in the foot, he got second and Vlad freed. Again, we’re talking about extra rules, extra walking, walking and some bugs there. Those are big boys. They can play plays.”
Hill allowed four runs with six strokes and walked two times with one strike across five innings.
He threw 56 of 8,386 out of 53 strike throws.
“I’m trying (to get ahead),” Hill said. “I’ve learned a lot from failure, but I think we’re getting close to that. I’m trying to take everything I can from the previous rounds and work to prevent or limit it from happening. That’s all you can do.”
Buried by Piraeus
One of Teoscar Hernandez in the second half set the table for Matt Chapman to continue his tears into a four-game streak. He hit the Hill slider, which hung over the core of the board, in two runs and a 2-0 lead.
Chapman had four homing pigeons in the series, and they stayed inside the park for Saturday’s game only.
“It’s a great lineup,” Hill said. “It’s the big leagues. Everyone has good squads. Just keep focusing and doing a little bit better, especially with two goals. That will be the key, I think.”
The early running boost was underpinned by a dominant right-handed performance by Blue Jays José Berríos. One was allowed to run with three strokes and one to walk with six strokes across seven innings, throwing 56 of 80 pitches.
After Grossman’s lead in the fifth inning weakened, the Tigers cornered him at second base, with Tucker Barnhart (shallow midfield), Willie Castro (strike) and Riley Greene (Gabri) retired. The Tigers also failed to score after Harold Castro’s lead song in the second half.
“We didn’t have a primary runner after the Grossman duo,” Hinch said. “This is a hard way to live.”
The Tigers scored their singles run in the fourth inning, when Baez received a midfield volley from Piraeus—his brother-in-law and AL leader allowed the homers—and lined up over the wall in the right center. He tied with Jeimer Candelario to lead the team with 10 home hurdles in 2022.
“Really good,” Bayes said. “I was just trying to focus on the fast ball. I was a little late there, but she got every barrel, so I got out. It felt great to hit one.”
However, the Tigers trailed 2-1.