After dropping the first two games of the series the Detroit Tigers bounced back to avoid being swept and snapped the Toronto Blue Jays' three-game win streak.
On the strength of Doug Fister's efficient eight innings on the mound and Jhonny Peralta's two home runs and four RBI's, the Tigers (54-38) ended its three game losing skid with a 4-1 road victory in front of 35,975 fans at Rogers Centre.
Toronto (51-50) opened the scoring in the first inning when Rajai Davis scored from third base on a ground ball by Colby Rasmus. The Tigers stormed ahead in the second inning when Blue Jays starting pitcher Brett Cecil let two runners get on before Peralta hit a long fly ball over the left field fence. The three-run shot suddenly vaulted the Tigers to a 3-1 lead.
The shortstop went deep again in the ninth inning, his eighth home run of the season, with a solo shot and gave the Tigers an insurance run that was more enough to secure the win.
“I don’t swing, it’s a strike,” said Peralta of his three-run blast off Cecil. “It’s a good home run. I waited for a pitch and it goes.”
“It’s good to win today. It’s hard when you lose a couple of games and now we come back and win.”
The Blue Jays did have opportunities to manufacture runs, but after the first inning, every time the home team was able to get on base Fister executed pitches for key outs. As a result, Toronto stranded a total of eight runners on base Sunday afternoon.
Blue Jays starting pitcher Brett Cecil put in another quality start, his third straight, but once again found himself on the losing end. He has had issues giving up home runs and that combined with lack of offence from his teammates proved to be the difference
“I thought the difference in this one today, obviously, Jhonny Peralta – three-run home run in the second, solo home run in the ninth,” said Blue Jays Manager John Farrell. “We had a number of two-out opportunities where Fister made key pitches to shut down any potential threat.”
“I thought Brett (Cecil) did his job keeping us in the game, particularly after giving up the three-run home run in the second – he settled down. I think overall in the series we pitched very well.”
Both Fister (5-7) and Cecil (2-4) cruised for most of the game before the Jays' lefty was pulled in the seventh, but the Tigers right-hander pitched eight innings. Cecil lasted a season-high 6.2 innings and gave up four hits, three runs and four walks while striking out seven batters. The home run to Peralta was the 16th long ball that Cecil has surrendered in his last 19 starts, including all eight starts this year. But he has allowed three runs or less in six of those appearances and five being quality starts, including his last three.
“I’m not going to change anything and keep doing what I’m doing,” said Cecil on his tendency to give up home runs and the lack of victories despite producing quality outings. “Wins will come, but more importantly, I just need to keep the team in the game. That’s all I can do.”
Joel Carreno relieved Cecil but fell victim to Peralta as well in the ninth inning when the shortstop lifted a long fly ball to left-centre field for a solo shot. The right-handed reliever is having a similar issue to what has plagued Cecil by giving up four home runs in his last two games in five innings and has allowed six home runs in his last seven contests this year, which includes two starts early in the season.
Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister pitched eight innings and aside from giving up a run in the first inning, the right-hander shut down the Blue Jays the rest of the way. He had nine strikeouts while giving up seven hits and two walks leaving the Jays to strand eight runners on base.
Meanwhile Fister allowed just a run, seven hits and two walks while striking out nine. He gave way to Jose Valverde who was able to get Kelly Johnson and Jeff Mathis swinging and ending the game on an Anthony Gose ground ball. The Tigers closer picked up his 20th save of the season.
“It’s just a matter of making adjustments. I feel like I’ve been working hard at it,” said Fister on keeping his recent success and keeping his ERA below two in his last four starts. “It’s a step in the right direction and where we want to be right now.
“It’s important for us to take this one here and put it under our belts and get into Boston and get back on a roll again – get some momentum, team camaraderie and go back into Detroit, ready to go.”
The Tigers will travel to Boston and take on the Red Sox in a three-game series starting Monday before heading home for a seven-game home stand facing the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.
The Blue Jays ended its six-game home stand at 3-3 and will now head out on the road for seven games, including a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners starting Monday night followed by a four-game set with the Oakland Athletics before returning to Toronto for a 10-game residency. The team's ace Ricky Romero (8-7, 5.75) will look to bounce back after being roughed for eight runs early against Oakland and will go up against Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2, 4.56) in the first game with opening pitch slated for 10:10 p.m. ET.
Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder looks up in frustration after popping up a ball in the infield while Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis eyes the ball as well. The Tigers slugger struggled and went 0-for-4 on the afternoon
Aman Dhanoa is a Toronto sports beat reporter covering games live and bringing Digital Journal insights from within the locker room.This article was originally published on Oye! Times