Blue Jays’ offense stumbles again

This is what the Toronto Blue Jays have apparently been reduced to: 45-year-old Omar Vizquel trying to steal second in the ninth inning of a one-run game.

<b.Tigers 3 Blue Jays 2

DETROIT — This is what the Toronto Blue Jays have apparently been reduced to: 45-year-old Omar Vizquel trying to steal second in the ninth inning of a one-run game.

Vizquel was caught by Alex Avila’s strong throw for the final out Wednesday night, and the Blue Jays lost 3-2 to the Detroit Tigers. Toronto has scored three or fewer runs in six straight games.

In fairness, Vizquel had been successful on his other three steal attempts this year — and Detroit closer Jose Valverde doesn’t hold runners well. But right now, it seems as though nothing is going right offensively for the Blue Jays.

“We’re struggling to score runs, so we’re trying to manufacture something with two outs,” manager John Farrell said. “Valverde has a slow release, so we were going to go after him even with medium-speed runners. We’re trying to force Avila into making a perfect throw, and he did. You just tip your cap on that one.”

Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez (2-3) allowed one earned run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two, leaving with the tying run on third base. The bullpen closed it out with Valverde pitching the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances and 100th save as a Tiger.

Aaron Laffey (3-5) allowed two earned runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He walked three and struck out two.

“I’ve been working really hard on keeping my arm high and getting on top of my sinker, and it absolutely paid off today,” Laffey said. “I felt really good out there.”

The Blue Jays are still without slugger Jose Bautista, who has been out since mid-July with a left wrist injury. He’s expected to rejoin the team Friday.

Sanchez and Omar Infante both came to Detroit from Miami in the same trade last month, and each played an important role Wednesday. Infante’s triple in the fourth was Detroit’s first hit of the game, and he came home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Sanchez settled in nicely in what may have been his best outing with the Tigers. The right-hander allowed 12 runs in his previous two starts but stayed mostly out of trouble against Toronto.

“His stuff was really electric, probably as crisp as it’s been since we got him,” Avila said. “He looked great, using all his pitches. He had real good life on his fastball.”

Jeff Baker’s RBI single in the fifth made it 2-0, but the Blue Jays came back with an unearned run in the sixth. Rajai Davis walked, stole second and went to third on Sanchez’s error on a pickoff throw. He eventually scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s single.

But the Tigers didn’t have a monopoly on poor defence. Toronto shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria’s error allowed Austin Jackson to reach in the bottom of the inning. He was sacrificed to second and came in to score on Prince Fielder’s single. Davis’ throw home from left field nearly had Jackson, but the ball scooted away from catcher Jeff Mathis as Jackson slid home.

“I thought Aaron threw the ball really well,” Farrell said. “We had an error in one inning and missed a bang-bang play at the plate, and that puts you on the short end of a 3-2 scoreline.”

Hechavarria’s sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 3-2, and Sanchez left the game after that. Brayan Villarreal got Davis to ground out to end that threat.

In the eighth, Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit allowed a walk and a single, and an error put runners on second and third with two out. Yorvit Torrealba hit a flyball to centre for the third out.

Vizquel had a pinch-hit single before being thrown out to end it.

NOTES: Toronto 1B David Cooper left in the sixth with a jammed neck. He is day to day. Mathis came in to catch and Torrealba went to first, playing there for the first time in his career. … Laffey pitched three hitless innings to start the game. He’s holding hitters to a .176 average the first time through the order. … Toronto’s Colby Rasmus went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He’s in an 0-for-26 slump. … Detroit’s Justin Verlander (12-7) starts Thursday against Toronto’s J.A. Happ (2-1). Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays last year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read