The Sports Xchange
By Chris Toman, The Sports Xchange
EditorsNote: Fixes second graph Tigers' ninth-inning homers sink Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Looking to snap a 20-year playoff drought, the Toronto Blue Jays aren't making things easy on themselves.
All losses count the same in the standings, but Friday's implosion was a heartbreaker.
Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez hit back-to-back homers off closer Casey Janssen in the ninth inning to stun a crowd of 36,237 and lead the Detroit Tigers to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
"It stings, yeah, but you have to have a quick memory in this game," said Janssen, who allowed two home runs in the same game for the first time since July 2010. "I feel bad for the boys. We're in a race, those things burn a little bit more."
The Blue Jays (61-56) led the American League East by 5 1/2 games exactly two months ago. At the conclusion of the night, they slipped into third place, trailing the Baltimore Orioles by six games, and are currently on the outside looking in with the wild card race. Toronto is 1-6 in August.
"It hurts to lose from here on out because we are in it," said Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, who threw six innings of two-run ball. "But we have a lot of games left so nobody can pout."
Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez led off the ninth inning with a double and Castellanos brought him home with a two-run blast to tie the score at 4. It was the third baseman's eighth home run of the season.
Suarez followed by depositing a 1-0 offering to dead-center field, the shortstop's fourth homer of the year, putting Detroit ahead 5-4 and handing Janssen (3-1) his third blown save of the season. It marked the sixth time this season Detroit has hit back-to-back homers.
"The dugout more or less exploded in jubilation," Castellanos said.
Tigers closer Joe Nathan got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth when Rajai Davis made a diving catch in foul territory down the left-field line to snag a slicing ball off the bat of catcher Josh Thole, effectively ending the nail-biter. It was Nathan's 24th save of the season.
Right-hander Al Alburquerque (3-1) threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win.
The Tigers (63-50) snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 2-3 during their current nine-game road trip. Davis had a two-hit game against his former team and second baseman Ian Kinsler went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
"They had us veteran guys all pumped up and screaming like little kids, like we just got ice cream," Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter said.
It wasn't all good news for Detroit. Right-hander Anibal Sanchez was forced to leave the game prematurely.
Sanchez, who gave up four runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, grabbed at his upper body after throwing a pitch in the fifth inning and exited shortly after without facing another batter. He was diagnosed with a right pectoralis strain and will be further examined Saturday.
"There was no way I could throw another pitch," Sanchez said. "I felt a lot of pain in that moment."
Dickey walked four batters, his most since May, but the right-hander held the Tigers to five hits and struck out six. He has gone six-plus innings in 11 consecutive starts.
Every Blue Jays starter except Thole had a hit. Four of them had multi-hit games, including designated hitter Dioner Navarro (3-for-4) and first baseman Danny Valencia, who went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs.
After going ahead 1-0 on an RBI single from Valencia in the first inning, the Blue Jays jumped all over Sanchez in the second.
Third baseman Munenori Kawasaki began the inning with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt to bring second baseman Ryan Goins to the plate with one out. The No. 9 hitter laid down a suicide squeeze to cash Kawasaki, before left fielder Melky Cabrera and right fielder Jose Bautista hit back-to-back RBI singles to put Toronto in front 4-0.
The Tigers didn't wait long to respond against Dickey. Suarez drew a leadoff walk in the third inning and Davis followed with his second double of the game to put two runners in scoring position for Kinsler, who ripped a single up the middle, scoring both, to make it 4-2.
It remained that way until the Tigers' improbable ninth-inning comeback.
"That's a tough one, no question about it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
NOTES: Toronto INF Steve Tolleson was reinstated from the paternity list and joined the Blue Jays for Friday's game against the Tigers. Left-hander Rob Rasmussen was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday to make room for Tolleson on the active roster. ... Blue Jays 1B/DH Adam Lind (foot) experienced back tightness on a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays and was scratched from Friday's game. ... Tigers OF Andy Dirks (back) was taken off his rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo with a hamstring injury. ... Detroit RF Torii Hunter (left hand) returned to the lineup after missing two games with a hand contusion as a result of getting hit by a pitch. Hunter wore padding over his left batting glove. ... Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman will face Tigers RHP Max Scherzer in the second game of the series Saturday.
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