Castellanos hits grand slam to lift Tigers to 9-1 rout of Blue Jays

TORONTO — J.A. Happ thought he pitched better than his stat line suggested on Sunday.

Nicholas Castellanos hit a grand slam off the Toronto left-hander as the Detroit Tigers beat the Blue Jays 9-1 to snap a season-high 11-game losing streak in a Canada Day matinee.

Happ (10-4) allowed seven runs, 10 hits and one walk and struck out four batters over 5 2/3 innings of work.

“When you look at the box score, you kind of make a decision about how a guy pitched. I don’t feel like that was kind of the way it was,” Happ said. “I thought it was the control of the game. I look at if I was in the middle of the plate and did they hit the ball hard and I really can’t say yes to either of those, at least not often.”

Castellanos was the exception.

The Tigers right-fielder hit his fourth career grand slam and team-leading 13th homer of the season in the fifth inning, sending a two-seam fastball over the centre-field wall. Castellanos’s last grand slam was also hit in Toronto last September.

“Castellanos has always hit him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It’s the one guy over there we worry about a little bit.”

Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (3-0) struck out six batters and allowed just one run and five hits over seven innings of work.

“He had a great curveball today,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said of his pitcher. “That’s probably the best curveball I’ve seen all year out of him.”

The Blue Jays (39-44) dropped just their second game in their last 12 at Rogers Centre and fell to 14-26 all-time on Canada Day (12-17 at home).

Toronto opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Justin Smoak hit an RBI double. Teoscar Hernandez scored from third base to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers responded in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two out, Leonys Martin hit an unexpected bunt single to tie the game 1-1. By the time Happ got to the ball, he was unable to find a force play.

“It worked, that’s all I’m going to say about that,” Happ said. “I think it gives you an indication about how he felt about that at bat. But he laid down a nice bunt and it worked.”

Martin suffered a left hamstring cramp on the play. The Tigers placed him on the 10-game disabled list after the game.

Castellanos broke the game open with his grand slam in the next at bat.

Detroit added to its lead in the sixth inning. Jose Iglesias hit a two-run bloop single to make it 7-1 and chase Happ from the game.

Jacoby Jones hit a two-run home run off Jays relief pitcher Preston Guilmet to give Detroit a 9-1 lead in the ninth.

Castellanos nearly hit his second home run of the game later in the inning. His shot to centre field was headed over the wall, but Kevin Pillar leaped into the air to make the catch.

“I felt like I was going to have a chance to make a play,” Pillar said of the grab. “A ball like that hit as high as it is it allows me time to kind of track the ball and track the fence and go up to try to make a play.”

Castellanos showed his respect by applauding Pillar’s catch after the play.

“What else can you say the end of the day besides ‘What a play,’” Castellanos said. “It sucks it had to happen to me but plays like that have to happen to somebody.”

Notes: The retractable roof at Rogers Centre remained closed with an extreme heat warning in place for Toronto. … Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Toronto Police Service were honoured before the game. The announced paid attendance was 37,445.

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