Smoak hits HR in 9th, Blue Jays hand Tigers 11th loss in row
Smoak led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Detroit 4-3 on Saturday, handing the Tigers their 11th straight loss.
”Honestly, nobody wants to play extra innings,” Smoak said. ”To be able to do it in the ninth and get it over with is always a good feeling.”
This is Detroit’s longest losing streak since an 11-game skid in August 2003, the year the Tigers lost 119 times. The Tigers last lost 12 straight in 1996.
Three of Detroit’s 11 defeats, including the past two, have been one-run losses. The Tigers are 13-13 in one-run decisions.
”There’s things we can do better but we’re not playing bad,” Tigers starter Matt Boyd said. ”It may seem dire, but it’s not. We’re close to where we want to be and we’re going to come out on the other end of this.”
Smoak connected against reliever Joe Jimenez (3-1) for his 11th homer of the season. It was the second walk-off drive of his career, with the other coming in 2016 against Texas.
Smoak, who hit a two-run homer in Friday’s 3-2 win, has gone deep in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
”I’m just trying to be aggressive and it’s been better as of late,” he said.
John Hicks hit a solo homer in the Detroit second off Sam Gaviglio and Nick Castellanos made it 3-0 with a two-run shot in the third, his 12th.
Boyd held the Blue Jays hitless until Kevin Pillar’s leadoff double in the fifth. Pillar moved to third on a one-out single by Aledmys Diaz and scored on a groundout by Devon Travis before Grichuk hit his tying homer.
”He was leaving the ball up just a little too much where they could get the bat head to it,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Boyd allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
”I made a few mistakes today and one of them went over the fence,” Boyd said.
Gaviglio gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the season.
Leonys Martin and Castellanos hit consecutive singles off Joe Biagini in the eighth but the Blue Jays right-hander retired the next three batters in order.
”We had runners in position a couple of times,” Gardenhire said. ”We just didn’t come up with the big one.”
Martin helped preserve the 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth by throwing out Travis at home plate. Travis was trying to score from second on Yangervis Solarte’s single to center, but couldn’t beat Martin’s one-hop throw. The assist was Martin’s ninth, tying him with Seattle’s Mitch Haniger for the AL lead.
With a heat alert in place for Toronto, the retractable roof at Rogers Centre was kept closed. The outdoor temperature was 88 degrees, with high humidity making it feel like 106.
Detroit has lost 12 of 14 in Toronto.
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Blue Jays C Luke Maile threw out two runners attempting to steal, both at second base. Maile threw out Jeimer Candelario in the first and Grayson Greiner in the seventh.
Tigers: RHP Alex Wilson had to leave in the eighth because of a sore left calf. Wilson missed almost a month earlier this season because of a strain in his left foot. … RHP Drew VerHagen (nasal fracture) will join Triple A Toledo Saturday night to begin an injury rehabilitation assignment. VerHagen has been out since June 20.
Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.35) faces Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.62) on Canada Day in Toronto. Zimmermann allowed seven runs in his previous start against Toronto on June 8, 2016. Happ has won six straight decisions and is unbeaten in eight outings.
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