TORONTO — The Blue Jays continue to flounder in extra-inning games this season.
Toronto lost 4-1 in 10 innings to the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on Friday, the team's eighth loss in its 10th outing requiring extra innings this year.
Detroit's Harold Castro came through with a pinch-hit, two-out RBI hit in the 10th inning off Blue Jays reliever Trevor Richards. He looped a single into left field with Willi Castro on second as the automatic extra-inning runner.
A walk to Robbie Grossman and back-to-back singles from Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario pushed across two more runs for the Tigers (59-65).
The Blue Jays (63-57) have lost three in a row and seven of their last 10 outings. They have not performed up to snuff since climbing back into the American League wild-card race after a 9-2 run in their Rogers Centre return between July 30 and Aug. 8.
"There is something to that when you try a little harder," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Two late-game situations in which the Blue Jays didn't execute were on Detroit's winning run, and a muffed bunt attempt by pinch hitter Breyvic Valera in the ninth inning.
On Harold Castro's looper to left, Toronto outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a chance to throw out Willi Castro at the plate. But Gurriel's attempt was well up the first baseline.
In the ninth, Teoscar Hernandez and Gurriel coaxed successive walks. Then, with none out and two strikes on him, Valera bunted hard to Schoop. The Tigers first baseman had time to narrowly get Hernandez on a force-out at third.
Randal Grichuk then hit into the home side's fourth double play on the evening.
"We didn't execute. That was the bottom line," Montoyo said.
"You could tell early on it was going to be tough to score."
Toronto starter Robbie Ray and his Detroit counterpart Tyler Alexander were excellent.
Ray went a strong eight innings, striking out 11 and only surrendering five hits. Alexander lasted seven innings, striking out six and just one run on four hits.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead with a solo blast to centre field in the fourth inning for his 36th homer of the season, but only third in 18 games this month.
Toronto took that 1-0 advantage into the eighth, usually a good sign because the Blue Jays were 43-4 when leading after seven innings. But Tigers shortstop Zack Short led off the inning with a single to left.
Short moved to second on Grayson Greiner's sacrifice bunt and stole third with Grossman at the plate.
Grossman then hit a fly to shallow right field. But Short opted not to test the arm of Toronto outfielder Hernandez.
Short made a good decision because not only did Hernandez throw a strike to catcher Alejandro Kirk, the Tigers benefitted from a Ray wild pitch to the next batter to score Short anyway.
"Nights like tonight are tough," said Ray of the Blue Jays' blown opportunity to close the deal. "When you have a runner on second base, it's not an easy situation to be thrown into.
"They were able to come through, and we weren't. It was just one of those nights."
Some of the crowd of 14,649 hoped to witness Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera make history with his 500th career home run. The 38-year-old designated hitter belted No. 499 in Baltimore on Aug. 11. But he went 0 for 5 in the series opener, striking out three times.
He popped out to first in the second inning, struck out in the fourth, softly grounded out to second in the sixth and Blue Jays reliever Jordan Romano fanned him in the ninth. Cabrera struck out for the third time in the 10th.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2021.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press