V-Mart's redemptive blast helps Tigers end Blue Jays' streak
By Gregor Chisholm and Jason Beck
MLB.com |@gregorMLB |
TORONTO -- Victor Martinez made sure Toronto's seven-game winning streak ended with a bang.
Martinez hit a solo home run to deep right-center field in the eighth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The victory was Detroit's second in its last six games.
Right-hander Bruce Rondon picked up the victory, despite surrendered a game-tying home run to Devon Travis in the seventh. Former Blue Jays prospect Matt Boyd earned a no-decision, but gave the Tigers a chance by limiting Toronto's offense to one run over five innings.
"It's just special to be back here, because this is where I began," Boyd said, "and I'll always have a special place in my heart for it. But once the first pitch is thrown, after that, it's time to go get the job done and compete."
Justin Upton went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for Detroit. Left fielder Ezequiel Carrera was one of the standouts for Toronto, with an RBI triple in the fifth inning and a highlight-reel play to throw out Martinez at the plate during the second.
"It was a battle for him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was a battle for him, he was facing one of the best lineups in all of baseball. That's never easy. I thought he was a little bit off today ... but you know what? He held them in check. ... He kept it right there, and we were able to come back and tie it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED V-Mart breaks out of slump: Martinez was in an 0-for-10 stretch when he stepped to the plate in the eighth inning against former Tiger Jason Grilli, who put him in an 0-2 hole before paying for a 94-mph fastball over the plate. Martinez's resulting drive measured 421 feet, according to Statcast™, landing in the seats. It was his first home run at Rogers Centre since July 3, 2013.
"They've been pitching everybody with a fastball high," Martinez said. "I was trying to lay off that high fastball -- and they actually threw me one, and I went after it and fouled it off. Then, I was just trying to get low early and see the ball and put a good swing [on it]." More >
Former Tiger makes them pay: Travis got a little bit of revenge against his former team, when he tied the game at 2 in the seventh with a solo homer to left-center field. According to Statcast™, Travis' sixth home run of the season was projected to travel 376 feet and left his bat at 97 mph. The 25-year-old second baseman was acquired by the Blue Jays prior to the 2015 season in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose.
Boyd bedazzles: Boyd had a mixed history against his former team, but the breaking ball he developed over the offseason served as an equalizing pitch for him against an aggressive Toronto lineup. He spotted it for a called third strike on Russell Martin with runners at the corners in the opening inning, and again on Junior Lake in the second -- two of his six strikeouts over five innings.
"He didn't have his best slider," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "but he mixed his curveball and changeup very well. He went in and out with his fastball against a predominantly right-handed lineup, and he did an excellent job. He did exactly what we needed him to do." More >
Zeke-ing out: Toronto's offense could not do much of anything against Boyd until the fifth, when Carrera hit an RBI triple to the corner in right field. Carrera's first triple of the year got Toronto on the scoreboard, but he was stranded when Edwin Encarnacion later popped out to third. The RBI was part of a big afternoon for the Blue Jays' left fielder, who also threw a strike from left field to home in the second inning to nail Martinez and take a run away from the Tigers.
"That was a huge play," Gibbons said. "You know what, when [Jose] Bautista went down, we didn't know what to expect. Now, here's Z's opportunity and he has done a tremendous job. We've been on a nice little run and he has been a key part of that." More >
"That's why you show up every day. You can't just hand things away." -- Ausmus on winning a supposed pitching mismatch on Saturday
"I think that changes the game, for sure. It is what it is at this point, but I definitely do think that it changes the game. It's 15 extra pitches, maybe two innings on the other end of it. But in a big league game, you can't allow something like that affect you." -- Sanchez on not getting a borderline pitch on a 2-2 count in the second inning to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who eventually walked to load the bases and a run scored when Andrew Romine was hit by a pitch
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Toronto's starters have held the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in 11 consecutive games. They also have allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of those starts.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Anibal Sanchez (5-9, 6.52 ERA) will fill out the injury-depleted Tigers rotation to close out the first half, facing the Blue Jays on Sunday in a 1:07 p.m. ET start at Rogers Centre. Sanchez gave up seven runs on five hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings starting in place of injured Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday at Cleveland.
Blue Jays: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-9, 4.10 ERA) will take the mound for the final Blue Jays game before the All-Star break. Dickey has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts, dating back to May 29.