Bases-loaded walk in 11th inning lifts Detroit Tigers over Toronto Blue Jays

By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange  |  July 16, 2017 at 7:37 PM
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DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers took the phrase "walk-off win" in a literal sense on Sunday.

Miguel Cabrera drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the 11th inning, giving the Tigers a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park.

Lucas Harrell's 3-2 pitch was wide, allowing Alex Avila to score.

The Tigers had three walks during the inning.

"That's where experience really comes into play,"Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Early in careers, you want to be the hero so badly that as soon as you see the white of the ball you're swinging, and you end up chasing pitches out of the zone.

"When you have guys who have been in the situation before, it's much easier to calm the nerves and just take what the pitcher is giving you."

Avila drew a leadoff walk against Jeff Beliveau (1-1). He battled back from an 0-2 count.

"At times, especially in extra innings, you have a tendency to try to do too much," Avila said. "At that point, guys realize, hey, just get the ball over the middle of the plate and then try to do damage. We had the right guys up there."

An error by Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson extended the inning, making the run unearned.

Warwick Saupold (2-1) picked up the win with an inning of scoreless relief for Detroit (41-49).

J.D. Martinez, who drove in two runs, tied the score with a solo homer in the eighth. Martinez left the game in the 10th inning for a pinch runner after stealing second base and tweaking an ankle.

Justin Upton and James McCann supplied run-scoring doubles. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings.

Detroit is 2-0 since holding a team meeting.

"We've got to chip away," Ausmus said. "When I said we needed (to make) a run, two wasn't what I was thinking about. It's a start. You've got to get two (wins) to get to three."

Justin Smoak and Jose Bautista hit two-run homers and Kendrys Morales added a solo shot for Toronto (42-49).

Toronto starter Marco Estrada gave up four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

"That was there for the taking," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We didn't play good enough ball. That's the bottom line."

The Blue Jays put on a power display with two outs in the first. Donaldson doubled before Smoak's home run. Morales then followed with his 17th long ball of the season to make it 3-0.

Estrada gave all those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Upton doubled with runners on the corners to bring home the first run. Cabrera and Martinez followed with sacrifice flies.

A miscommunication in the outfield allowed Detroit to grab a 4-3 advantage in the fourth. Alex Presley led off with a fly ball to right center. Both center fielder Kevin Pillar and Bautista in right backed off from it, gifting a double to Presley. McCann's long fly ball to left popped out of left fielder Ezequiel Carrera's glove as he jumped near the wall, allowing Presley to score.

Toronto regained the lead in the next inning at 5-4 on Bautista's two-run line shot over the left field wall, his 16th homer of the year.

Martinez knotted the score leading off the eighth with his 16th homer off Danny Barnes. The ball just snuck over the right-field wall and was initially ruled a double before a review.

"We got the early lead and gave it right back," Gibbons said. "Took the lead back again, but it's tough to ask your bullpen to go five clean innings there at the end. ... Tough one today, tough long one."

NOTES: Blue Jays LHP Francisco Liriano was still feeling soreness on the right side of his neck and back after his abbreviated start on Saturday. Liriano lasted just two innings and was charged with five earned runs before he departed with neck tightness. It is uncertain if he will make his scheduled start on Thursday, but he did not require an MRI. ... Toronto has not been better than tied for fourth in the American League East standings all season. ... The Blue Jays continue a 10-game road trip in Boston on Monday. Detroit begins a seven-game trek in Kansas City. ... Tigers OF Alex Presley made his 16th start in center field. He is one of five players who have started at least 15 games in center this season.

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