Tigers-Blue Jays Preview
TORONTO -- The Detroit Tigers assured themselves of a winning road trip Saturday when they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2
They are 6-4 on the trip and on Sunday they will try to gain a split of the four-game series when they send out Anibal Sanchez (5-9, 6.52 ERA) against Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-9, 4.10 ERA).
An eighth-inning home run by designated hitter Victor Martinez provided the winning margin Saturday and gave the Tigers a 46-42 record.
"We're not where we want to be at this point but there's a lot of season left," Martinez said. "I'm really happy with the way we have been playing lately. Every series is big, every game is big. It doesn't matter what point of the season you're at, you're trying to win every game."
The Tigers won two of three from the Blue Jays in June at Comerica Park, so the teams enter Sunday's game having won three games apiece against each other.
Dickey beat the Tigers in the Blue Jays' only win in Detroit this season. He was not at his sharpest but he held the Tigers to two runs despite allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in the 7-2 win.
In 20 games, including 13 starts, against the Tigers, Dickey is 8-3 with a 4.01 ERA.
Sanchez will make his 22nd appearance and 14th start of the season Sunday. He is 3-2 with a 4.17 ERA in nine career games, including seven starts, against the Blue Jays.
He has allowed no runs in two relief appearances covering 3 1/3 innings against Toronto this season. In two career starts at Rogers Centre, Sanchez is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.
The loss on Saturday stopped the Blue Jays' season-best winning streak at seven games, their longest since winning 11 straight Aug. 2-13, 2015. They have won 17 of their past 24 games overall and eight of their past 11 at home.
One of the reasons for the Blue Jays' success is that they have coped with the injury to right fielder Jose Bautista, an important part of the lineup who has turf toe and has just started to hit off a tee.
During Bautista's absence, Ezequiel Carrera has done a good job leading off and playing the outfield, usually right field.
Carrera started in left field Saturday and in the second inning threw out Martinez at the plate after catching the liner hit by Steven Moya. Martinez admitted that it was his own idea to tag up and try to score. After he saw the video, he confessed that he thought the ball was hit deeper than it was.
"That was a huge play," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You know what, when Bautista went down, we didn't know what to expect. Now, here's Z's opportunity -- and he has done a tremendous job. We've been on a nice little run, and he has been a key part of that."
Carrera hit an RBI triple in the fifth inning Saturday. He has reached base safely in 23 of his past 25 games.
"Whether it's getting on base, getting the big hits, bunting, whatever he does -- and defensively, he has been great, too," Gibbons said. "That's the key for guys to hang around a long time in this league, getting the opportunity. He hadn't really gotten that, now he's gotten it and he's running with it."