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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Five keys to Wednesday's loss to the Blue Jays

DETROIT — The slide continues.

The Tigers (31-24) lost their fourth game in a row, falling 8-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

In the past 17 days the Tigers have had:

• 12 losses in 16 games.

• Three losing streaks of three or more games, after no skid of more than two games in the first 39 played.

• Had their divisional lead cut in half, despite equally lackluster play by the rest of the division.

• No series wins in the five they’ve played, splitting only the series in Oakland.

Here are five key points in the loss:

FIRST INNING >> Melky Cabrera launched a solo home run into the right-field seats — the sixth home run allowed by Rick Porcello in his previous 19 1/3 innings pitched — but Miguel Cabrera matched it in the bottom of the first, leaving it a 1-1 tie after an inning. In the third inning, Ian Kinsler launched his first home run since May 12, making it 2-1. At that point, the Tigers had scored 12 of their previous 13 runs by way of the long ball. [CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO]

SIXTH INNING >> Porcello gave up the lead, allowing two-out doubles by Cabrera and Adam Lind, sandwiched around a walk to Jose Bautista. The shot by Lind to dead center got over the head of Austin Jackson, scoring two runs to make it 3-2 Blue Jays.

“It’s a good hitting team. To pitch deep into the game is definitely a positive, but at the same time, the inning that I gave up the two runs I got two quick outs, gave up a hit and a walk and found myself in a tough position and gave up a double to Lind. I think that situation definitely could’ve been prevented. It’s frustrating when you give up runs with two outs, especially after those first two hitters. I was throwing the ball good. I was getting into a rhythm. I just didn’t make a good enough to Lind to get out of it. As it turns out, that was a turning point in the game,” Porcello said.

“When you have two outs, you’re in the drivers seat in that inning. The walk bothered me, and the hit bothered me too obviously. Then I got put into a situation where you’ve got a very good RBI hitter up. I felt like I made a pretty good pitch to him, but he put a good swing on it. He drive it in the alley and scored two and that was the difference.”

FOURTH AND SIXTH INNINGS >> Kinsler would end both innings with a pop fly to the right side, stranding the bases loaded. The second time was particularly egregious, as the Tigers loaded the bases on two walks and a single to chase Jays starter R.A. Dickey. Lefty reliever Aaron Loup struck out pinch hitter J.D. Martinez, and got Rajai Davis to pop out in foul territory on the first pitch, before inducing Kinsler’s foul fly, as well.

“Our big inning was when we had the bases loaded …. But that (coming up empty) is going to happen. Teams will go through that,” Nick Castellanos said. “But when we get out of this storm, we’re going to be much better.”

Three straight right-handed batters went down weakly, when they all had the platoon advantage, continuing a recent run when the Tigers have struggled against left-handed pitching. [CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO]

“Well, I mean, that was the turning point, for us. Loup did his job, even against right-handed bats. That was really kind of a turning point for us, offensively. We just kind of scuffled to get that big hit,” manager Brad Ausmus said, noting that — minus the long ball — the Tigers were completely unable to get a big hit.

“Well, I mean, that was the issue. I don’t know that you can get any more specific. We had some opportunities. We were unable to come up with the big hit tonight. The converse is, Lind came up with the big hit for them. That was kind of the turning point for the game.”

EIGHTH INNING >> If one hit defined the way the Tigers have been going, it’s Bautista’s cue shot that completely fooled Castellanos. It appeared to take a left turn on a bounce, sending Castellanos sprawling, as he tried to redirect. It put two on for Lind, who made it 5-2 with a double to right.  [CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO] Phil Coke relieved Evan Reed for the Tigers with the bases loaded and one out, and got out of the jam with just one more run tacked on. [CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO]

EIGHTH INNING >> The Tigers put two in scoring position after the Jays threw away a potential double-play ball off the bat of just-called-up rookie Eugenio Suarez, but the former Blue Jay Davis stranded them there with his third strikeout of the night.


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