By Keegan Matheson and Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- The Tigers lived a life of extremes on Friday night at Rogers Centre, hitting a grand slam and turning a triple play in a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays.
Starter Buck Farmer was a big benefactor of the triple play after exiting with two men on base in the sixth, but gave the Tigers a strong performance on 77 pitches over his five-plus innings. Farmer allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out three.
"He did what he normally does when he pitches well," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He locates his fastball and uses his breaking ball. His breaking ball seems to be a really good pitch, especially the slower one."
Marcus Stroman was sharp outside of the third inning, but the two-out rally capped by Nicholas Castellanos' third career grand slam left him with four earned runs over six innings of work. Stroman struck out six and walked one batter.
Stroman wasn't cleared for Friday's start until Thursday after taking a Mark Trumbo line drive to his pitching elbow in his last outing against the Orioles. He avoided serious injury, however, and his start didn't seem to be affected by it.
"I don't have doubt ever," Stroman said. "My goal was to get back out there. I never want to miss starts, so I did everything I could in my power to get back out there and we got it done. Doubt, honestly, doesn't cross my mind, ever."
After relievers Drew VerHagen and Daniel Stumpf carried the Tigers' lead to the bottom of the eighth, Richard Urena and Jose Bautista both homered against Alex Wilson to bring the Blue Jays back within one. It was Bautista's 22nd home run of the season, giving him 22 or more in each of his last eight seasons with Toronto.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A grand two-out rally: Castellanos delivered the big blow with his third career grand slam in the top of the third. Dixon Machado and Ian Kinsler kept the inning alive with a pair of two-out base hits and Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases in front of Castellanos. The ball didn't appear to be threatening off the bat, as Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar settled short of the warning track, but he had lost the ball in the sky and it quickly sailed over his head and the wall.
"Jeimer had a good at-bat before me," Castellanos said, spreading the credit. "Kinsler had a good at-bat before me. Dixon started it with a double in the right-center gap, so without those guys I'm not able to come up. I just kind of told myself to look for something over the plate and drive it to the big part of the field."
Urena gets his first: Blue Jays shortstop Urena hit his first career home run in the bottom of the eighth, a solo shot to the opposite field to cut the Tigers' lead to 5-4. The 21-year-old prospect was called up when rosters expanded at the beginning of the month from Double-A New Hampshire, which is the highest level he had played at to date. Statcast™ estimated the home run at 368 feet, with an exit velocity of 99.8 mph.
"I feel very proud and very emotional about getting that off my back," Urena said through an interpreter. "It's my third or fourth game in the big leagues so far, and it always feels good to hit the ball out." More >
"I think he's an excellent right fielder when he hits grand slams." -- Ausmus, on Castellanos, who made his first MLB start in right field
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The home run by Urena was the first for a Toronto rookie shortstop since Adeiny Hechavarria on Sept. 16, 2012.
TIGERS TURN THREE
The Tigers turned their first triple play since 2001, halting what looked like a Blue Jays rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Reliever VerHagen forced the ground ball that started it, which is what Ausmus had planned when he brought him in to face Pillar. Well, sort of.
"Well, he actually didn't really follow direction," Ausmus said, "because I told him to get a double play and he didn't. He got a triple play."
With runners on first and second base, Pillar drove a ground ball down the third-base line with an exit velocity of 106.2 mph, according to Statcast™. It was right at Candelario, who stepped on the bag and threw to Kinsler for the second out. Kinsler then fired to Efren Navarro at first, just narrowly beating out Pillar for the triple play. More >
PEARCE LEAVES AFTER ONE
Blue Jays left fielder Steve Pearce left the game after the first inning with tightness in his lower back. Pearce struck out looking in the inning and then did not return to the field. Rookie Teoscar Hernandez replaced Pearce in left field and took over the top spot in the lineup. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Left-hander Chad Bell (0-2, 5.98 ERA) will make his second MLB start on Saturday afternoon at 4:07 p.m. ET. The 28-year-old made 19 relief appearances for the Tigers before moving into the rotation. He allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings against Cleveland in his first start.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Brett Anderson (2-3, 6.42 ERA) will take the mound when this series continues on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. This is Anderson's third start since joining Toronto in late August, and so far he has allowed four earned runs over 11 2/3 innings. He will be making this start on one extra day of rest.