Tigers lose 10 straight for first time since 2003
TORONTO (AP) — Marcus Stroman ended his winless drought against a Detroit Tigers team struggling to snap out of their worst losing streak in nearly 15 years.
Stroman pitched seven innings to get his first victory this season, Justin Smoak hit a two-run home run and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Detroit 3-2 Friday, handing the slumping Tigers their 10th consecutive defeat.
Stroman (1-5) had not won since beating the New York Yankees last Sept. 24 in Toronto’s final home game of the 2017 season, but snapped a career-worst streak of six straight losing decisions.
Making his second start after missing 39 games because of a sore shoulder, Stroman allowed two runs and five hits, lowering his ERA from 6.80 to 6.20. The right-hander struck out four and didn’t issue a walk for the first time in nine starts this season.
The emotional pitcher said he felt like himself again after taking down the Tigers.
“It’s a relief just being able to be myself out there,” Stroman said.
Manager John Gibbons agreed that success had given his pitcher a new spring in his step.
“He looks like the old guy,” Gibbons said. “He’s got a little strut going, like John Travolta.”
It’s Detroit’s longest losing streak since a 10-game skid from Sept. 13 to 22, 2003.
“The guys are really pushing hard in the dugout but it’s just not happening right now,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Detroit slugger Nick Catsellanos said Stroman kept the Tigers off balance both with good stuff, and a funky delivery full of pauses and hesitations.
“He’s a very unorthodox pitcher with the way he delivers,” Castellanos said. “He kind of dances on the mound a little bit. That can be difficult to get in synch with.”
Seunghwan Oh pitched the eighth and Tyler Clippard gave up an infield single to begin the ninth but retired the next three batters in order for his fifth save in nine chances.
Detroit opened the scoring when JaCoby Jones scored on Dixon Machado’s double play groundout in the third, but the Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth, with the first six batters reaching safely against Detroit’s Francisco Liriano.
Smoak hit his 10th home run and first since June 3 at Detroit, and Randal Grichuk added a two-out RBI single.
Tigers infielder Jeimer Candelario cut it to 3-2 with a solo homer, his team-leading 12th, to begin the seventh.
Liriano (3-4) allowed three runs in six innings to lose his third straight decision. The left-hander is winless in seven starts since a victory at Baltimore on April 28.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said he expects RHP Roberto Osuna to rejoin the team when his 75-game suspension for violating baseball’s joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. It’s the first time the team has publicly endorsed Osuna’s return to the roster since his arrest in early May. Osuna is still facing an assault charge in Toronto. His next court date is July 9.
“Roberto is our closer,” Atkins said. “We’re running a baseball team and our goal is to win championships. Roberto could potentially be very much a part of that.”
Osuna has no record and a 2.93 ERA with nine saves in 10 chances this season.
Stroman fanned Tigers C James McCann in the fifth for his 500th career strikeout. He’s the 21st pitcher in Blue Jays history to reach the mark.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Stumpf (ulnar nerve) allowed one run and two hits in one inning at Triple-A Toledo. It was the first time Stumpf had pitched in back-to-back games since beginning his rehab assignment June 19.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (right index finger) has not been able to throw since landing on the 10-day disabled list June 22 and is unlikely to be ready to return when eligible Monday, manager John Gibbons said. … Toronto selected utilityman Darnell Sweeney from Triple-A Buffalo to take the roster spot of OF Steve Pearce, who was traded to Boston on Thursday.
Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd (4-6, 4.15) faces Blue Jays RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.98). Boyd is 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA in four career starts at Toronto. Gaviglio is winless in five starts since beating Philadelphia on May 25.