The Tigers’ top players created a winning rally without doing much of anything.
Alex Avila, Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera drew walks in the 11th inning, the last with the bases loaded, giving Detroit a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“That’s how experience wins games,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Young guys are going up there thinking about a walk-off homer and swinging as soon as they see the white of the ball. Veterans are patient enough to wait for what the pitcher gives them.”
Avila was walked by Jeff Beliveau (1-1) leading off the 11th and advanced on Jose Iglesias’ sacrifice.
“It’s tempting to try to do too much in extra innings, but we had the right guys up there,” Avila said. “You have to be disciplined enough to wait for a pitch down the middle before you try to make something happen.”
Lucas Harrell relieved, Ian Kinsler lined out and third baseman Josh Donaldson fielded Nicholas Castellanos’ grounder down the line and then bobbled the ball while pulling it out of his glove for an error that put runners at the corners.
Upton walked on a 3-1 pitch, loading the bases, and Harrell fell behind Cabrera 3-1. The two-time AL MVP took a called strike, fouled off a pitch, then took a fastball outside for ball four, giving Detroit two victories in three games following the All-Star break.
Toronto wasted leads of 3-0 and 5-4.
“The game was there for the taking, but we didn’t play good enough ball,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We got the lead early and gave it right back.”
Warwick Saupold (2-1) got the win with a scoreless 11th.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings, including home runs by Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales and Jose Bautista. Smoak hit a two-run homer in the first and Morales connected two pitches later for a 3-0 lead.
“I had some very bad pitch sequences to great hitters,” Sanchez said. “I felt good, but I can’t do that against guys with that much power.”
Upton’s RBI double and sacrifice flies by Cabrera and J.D. Martinez tied the score in the bottom half against Marco Estrada, who gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings.
“The last time I pitched was 12 or 13 days ago, so I guess this was to be expected,” Estrada said. “Other than Upton’s double in the first, I don’t think they hit much hard, but things didn’t go my way.”
Consecutive doubles by Alex Presley and James McCann put the Tigers ahead 4-3 in the fourth, the first dropping between Kevin Pillar in centre and Bautista in right, the latter glancing off the tip of Ezequiel Carrera’s glove at the left-field fence.
Bautista’s two-run homer put Toronto ahead 5-4 in the fifth, but Martinez tied the score when he homered on Danny Barnes’ first pitch of the eighth. A video review upheld the call that ball cleared the fence and bounced back to the field after it hit a railing.Report Typo/Error