TORONTO — The Blue Jays were left to focus on the small victories Thursday after the Detroit Tigers avoided a three-game sweep with a 3-1 win over Toronto at Rogers Centre.
Toronto starter Chris Bassitt made a second straight quality start, the Blue Jays bullpen gave up only one run in the series and George Springer extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Detroit (3-9) ended its six-game losing skid and handed Toronto (8-5) just its second defeat in nine games.
Bassitt (1-2), who struggled in his Blue Jays debut before rebounding in his second start, allowed two earned runs and four hits over a six-inning appearance.
“He’s really good at reading hitter’s swings and is not afraid to throw any pitch in any count,” said Toronto manager John Schneider. “I think it just keeps hitters a little bit at bay. That has been his (modus operandi) for a while and it’s what he’s continuing to do.”
The veteran right-hander, who signed a three-year deal with Toronto last fall, had seven strikeouts and issued three walks.
“I’d say my stuff kind of has returned back to normal,” Bassitt said. “Velo is up on basically every pitch that I need it to be up. So the sharpness was there.”
It was the first home loss of the season for the Blue Jays, who started the campaign with a 10-game road trip.
Bo Bichette had two hits for his sixth multi-hit game of the season. Toronto outhit Detroit 8-7.
Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull (1-2) threw five strong innings, giving up six hits, one earned run and a walk, while striking out six. Chasen Shreve, Jason Foley and Jose Cisnero each threw an inning of relief ahead of Alex Lange, who worked a clean ninth for his first save.
“We’ve had a tough time getting to the 27th out,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “Today, to a man, everybody helped us.”
Detroit shortstop Javier Baez was pulled from the game after he was doubled off in the second inning. He had started trotting to third base — assuming the inning was about to end on Akil Baddoo’s fly ball — and didn’t realize it was only the second out.
“If you watch the last couple of series, we’ve made a number of mental mistakes, and the one thing we can control is our preparedness and our readiness,” Hinch said. “Javy happened to be the runner that made the big mistake where I made the move.
“But it’s a message to our whole team that we’ve got to clean that up.”
Jonathan Schoop came on for Baez and Nick Maton moved from third base to shortstop. Baez said he’s on the same page as his skipper.
“Obviously we’ve got to show respect to the game,” Baez said. “He took a decision and I respect that. He’s the manager and we’ve got to respect what he does.”
Each team scored a run in the third inning as Jake Rogers came home on a Tyler Nevin sacrifice fly. In the bottom half, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. delivered an RBI single that plated Cavan Biggio.
Detroit regained the lead in the fifth inning when Zach McKinstry hit a gapper that brought home Baddoo, who led off with a walk.
The Blue Jays put runners in scoring position in the frame as Springer and Bichette singled before advancing on a Daulton Varsho grounder. Turnbull escaped by striking out Alejandro Kirk.
The Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh but couldn’t pad their lead.
Sidearmer Adam Cimber got Nevin to ground into a forceout and left-hander Tim Mayza came on and snuffed the threat with another force and a flyout.
Detroit finally added an insurance run in the eighth off right-hander Anthony Bass. Spencer Torkelson hit a leadoff double and scored on a double by Rogers.
The retractable roof at Rogers Centre was open for the second straight night. Announced attendance was 26,192 and the game took two hours 53 minutes to play.
Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman was scratched from Toronto’s starting lineup due to a viral illness.
The team announced the change about a half-hour before first pitch. He was replaced by Santiago Espinal.
Schneider said Chapman was battling a stomach bug and could return Friday.
Before the game, Tigers great Miguel Cabrera was presented with a retirement gift of framed photos taken on the day he hit his 500th career home run.
Cabrera reached the plateau in August 2021 at Rogers Centre. He became the first Tiger to join the 500-club and the 28th big-leaguer to accomplish the feat.
Left-hander Ricky Tiedemann, the Blue Jays’ top prospect, made an impressive season debut with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Thursday.
He allowed two hits over three scoreless innings and all nine outs were strikeouts. Tiedemann started the season on the injured list with left shoulder soreness.
The unbeaten Tampa Bay Rays (13-0) will kick off a three-game series on Friday night against Toronto.
Drew Rasmussen (2-0, 0.00 earned-run average) was scheduled to start the opener against Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios (0-2, 11.17).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2023.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press