After two close games, Tigers, Blue Jays conclude series (Sep 10, 2017)
TORONTO -- Each team has made a late run that just fell short in the first two games of their series at the Rogers Centre.
The Toronto Blue Jays scored twice in the eighth inning Friday night before losing 5-4. The Detroit Tigers scored twice in the ninth Saturday and left two runners on base in the inning in their 5-4 loss.
After a pair of close games, the teams play the rubber game of their three-game series Sunday afternoon.
"I actually thought we were going to be snatching that one back from them," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We've done this a number of times this season. It seems like we always make the other team sweat."
The Blue Jays need a win to gain a split of the six-game season series between the teams. The Tigers won two of three at Comerica Park July 14-16.
The Tigers will start right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 7.07 ERA) in the series finale against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (7-10, 3.85).
Neither team is going anywhere but home at the end of the season. So it has been a good series to make liberal use of September callups.
Each team has been without key players.
Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson (illness), left fielder Steve Pearce (stiff lower back) and closer Roberto Osuna (stiff neck) were not available Saturday. Donaldson appears most likely to be ready to play Sunday.
Ryan Tepera acted as the closer Saturday for the Blue Jays and allowed two runs in the ninth before picking up his second save of the season.
"Osuna had a bad neck today, so he couldn't pitch," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's why we went (with Tepera). Everybody thinks it's easy to close. Nothing's easy but he got the job done."
The Tigers lost left fielder Mikie Mahtook (sore left groin) as a late scratch Saturday and he is not expected to play Sunday. Shortstop Jose Iglesias (paternity leave) has been in Miami for the birth of his son and the timing of his return is uncertain because of the severe hurricane conditions in Florida. He has been activated from the paternity list.
Detroit did welcome back first baseman Miguel Cabrera on Saturday from a six-game suspension for his part in a brawl with the New York Yankees. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning Saturday.
"Getting six games off would allow the body to refresh itself," Ausmus said. "In typical Miggy fashion, first at-bat he hits a home run."
Center fielder Kevin Pillar has been hot for the Blue Jays. He was 4-for-4 with the go-ahead home run and an RBI single Saturday. He also made a sensational catch in the fifth, crashing into the wall on a ball hit by Dixon Machado. Pillar is batting .330 (28-for-88) with hits in 17 of his past 21 starts.
"Kev has been on a nice little roll, he has been swinging the bat well," Gibbons said. "Then, of course, the big play in center field, like he always does. It's kind of like an old hat to him. He's in a nice groove, he's driving some balls and he played really well on that last road trip too."
Happ ended a three-game winless drought Tuesday when he earned the decision in a 10-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, allowing three runs (one earned), six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.
He will be trying for his third career win against the Tigers Sunday in the finale of the three-game series at the Rogers Centre. He is 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Tigers.
Happ has tossed five or more innings in 16 of his 17 starts since the beginning of June and has allowed only one homer in his past eight starts.
Sanchez will make his 13th start of the season and his 24th appearance overall.
Sanchez faced just one batter in his start Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals when he suffered a right-calf contusion after being hit by a line drive. He allowed one run in the start.
He has faced the Blue Jays 11 times (nine starts) in his career and is 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA. He did not factor in the decision against the Blue Jays July 16 at Comerica Park when he allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings.
In three career starts at the Rogers Centre, he is 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA.