TORONTO — A pinch-hit, two-out single in the 10th inning from Detroit Tigers infielder Harold Castro handed the Blue Jays a third consecutive loss on Friday.
Castro looped a hit into left field with Willi Castro on second as the automatic extra-inning runner. However, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s throw up the first-base line had no chance at catching Willi Castro at the plate en route to a 4-1 loss.
A Robbie Grossman walk and back-to-back singles from Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario pushed across two more runs for the Tigers (59-65).
The Blue Jays (63-57) have claimed only three victories in their last 10 outings and lost for only the third time in 12 games since returning to Rogers Centre on July 30.
Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray went a strong eight innings, striking out 11 and only surrendering five hits. His Detroit counterpart, Tyler Alexander, lasted seven innings, striking out six and just one run on four hits.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a solo blast to centre field in the fourth inning for his 36th of the season, but only third in 18 games this month. The 1-0 Toronto lead lasted until the eighth when Tigers shortstop Zack Short led off the inning with a single to left.
Short moved to second on Grayson Greiner’s sacrifice bunt and stole third with Grossman at the plate.
Grossman then hit a fly to shallow right field. But Short opted not to test the arm of Toronto outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.
Short made a good decision because not only did Hernandez throw a strike to catcher Alejandro Kirk, the Tigers benefitted from a Ray wild pitch to the next batter to score Short anyway.
The Blue Jays put runners on first and second with none out in their half of the eighth. But Marcus Semien struck out, and Guerrero hit into a double play to end the threat.
In the ninth, Toronto had runners on first and second after successive walks with none out. But the inning ended with Randal Grichuk hitting into the Blue Jays’ fourth double play of the game.
Some of the crowd of 14,649 hoped to witness Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera make history with his 500th career home run. The 38-year-old designated hitter belted No. 499 in Baltimore on Aug. 11. But he went 0 for 5 in the series opener.
He popped out to first in the second inning, struck out in the fourth, softly grounded out to second in the sixth and Blue Jays reliever Jordan Romano fanned him in the ninth. Cabrera struck out for the third time in the 10th.
After Guerrero’s smash, Gurriel followed with a one-out single and moved to third on Kirk’s double off the glove of Detroit left-fielder Willi Castro.
But Gurriel and Kirk were stranded after Grichuk fouled out to Tigers catcher Greiner and Kevin Smith popped out to Greiner.
Smith made his first MLB start after making a late-inning debut in Washington on Wednesday. As Toronto’s designated hitter, he snuck a ground ball through the right side of the infield for his first hit in the third inning.
After a gloomy 3-6 road trip to Anaheim, Seattle and Washington, the Blue Jays arrived home to begin a seven-game homestand with their weekend series against the Tigers and a four-game set against the Chicago White Sox next week.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press