Kevin Pillar has run the gamut of emotions during the Toronto Blue Jays’ series with the visiting Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre this weekend, with the low of bouncing into a triple play in the opener eclipsed by the high of recording his third career four-hit performance the following day. Pillar will look to remain on the positive side of things Sunday afternoon as the teams conclude their three-game series.
Pillar is batting .330 while hitting safely in 18 of his last 22 games entering Sunday’s clash versus starter Anibal Sanchez, against whom he is 3-for-9 in his career. “I’ve put in a lot of work, and I’ve made some adjustments,” the 28-year-old Pillar told reporters of his recent success. “You just kind of go back to basics and look for pitches to handle and try not to do too much, just go up there and be aggressive. ... Now I go up there with an idea and I’m looking in the zone.” While Detroit is down in the dumps with losses in seven of its last nine after Saturday’s 5-4 setback, Nicholas Castellanos has been swinging a hot bat by going 9-for-24 during his six-game hitting streak. The 25-year-old is 5-for-11 in his career versus Sunday starter J.A. Happ.
TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, TVA Sports, Sportsnet (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 7.07 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (7-10, 3.85)
Sanchez departed after pitching to one batter versus Kansas City on Tuesday, as he found himself on the receiving end of a line drive off his right calf. The 33-year-old Venezuelan will look to shake off that outing and record his first win since Aug. 1 when he faces Toronto, against which he walked away with a no-decision on July 16 despite yielding three homers and five runs total in six innings. Sanchez has kept Justin Smoak (2-for-16) and Miguel Montero (3-for-24) under wraps, but is 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA in three career starts at Rogers Centre.
Happ ended a three-game winless skid by allowing just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings of a 10-4 victory at Boston on Monday. “I thought J.A. was good,” acting Blue Jays manager DeMarlo Hale said of the 34-year-old’s performance. “He was around the zone, mixed his pitches well. I thought he threw the ball very well.” Happ owns a 2-1 mark with a 4.10 ERA in seven career games against Detroit.
1. Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson (illness) is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday after missing the first two contests of the series.
2. Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera launched a two-run shot on Saturday for his 461st homer, tying him with Adrian Beltre for 37th on the career list.
3. Blue Jays RHP Carlos Ramirez pitched a perfect seventh on Saturday to extend his streak to 44 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run this season at Double-A, Triple-A and in the majors.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 2