Castellanos’ grand slam helps Tigers beat Blue Jays
TORONTO — The difference for the Detroit Tigers in their 5-4 victory came with two swings of the bat Friday night, one of their own and one by the Toronto Blue Jays.
First, there was the grand slam by Nick Castellanos in the third inning against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman.
Then there was the triple play on a smash to third by Toronto’s Kevin Pillar against Tigers reliever Drew VerHagen that cut off a rally in the sixth.
“He actually didn’t really follow direction because I told him to get a double play and he didn’t, he got a triple play,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus quipped.
“That was a big part of the game no doubt,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
It was the first triple play turned by the Tigers since Aug. 1, 2001, against the Seattle Mariners.
Ian Kinsler also homered for the Tigers (60-80).
Richard Urena, a September callup, belted his first career home run for Toronto (64-77) and Jose Bautista hit his 22nd of the season. Both homers came against Detroit reliever Alex Wilson in the eighth inning.
Detroit starter Buck Farmer (4-2) allowed five hits, two walks and two runs (one earned) in five-plus innings. He struck out three.
“He did what he normally does when he pitches well,” Ausmus said. “He locates his fastball and uses his breaking ball.”
Shane Greene pitched around a two-out walk in the ninth to earn his seventh save of the season.
Stroman (11-7) allowed six hits, one walk and four runs in six innings. He struck out six. He left his previous start Saturday in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles when he was hit on the right elbow by a line drive.
“I just want to give a big thanks to the training staff here,” Stroman said. “After taking that line drive off the elbow, it was tough in between starts to get back out there. There was a lot of swelling and a lot of tightness in there.”
“I don’t know if we figured him out (in the third),” Ausmus said. “We just happened to get to him in that one inning. He had pretty good stuff.”
The Blue Jays were trailing 4-1 after five innings when they caught a break in the bottom of the sixth. Bautista reached first base on a strikeout when catcher James McCann was charged with a passed ball.
Justin Smoak singled and Kendrys Morales followed with an RBI single.
VerHagen replaced Farmer and the Tigers turned a triple play that started on Pillar’s hard-hit grounder to third on a fine play by third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who stepped on third before throwing to second baseman Kinsler, who then got the ball to first.
“You think maybe the ball’s down in the corner and we’re sitting on a big inning,” Gibbons said. “(Candelario) made a heck of a play. Then you don’t expect to get one on a guy like Pillar either who can run.”
“Kinsler told me ‘Let’s be ready for the triple play,’” Candelario said. “I was prepared, man. I said, ‘If he gives me a grounder to the other side, I’m going to do this.’”
“Candy made a great play,” VerHagen said. “That ball was hit pretty hard, that wasn’t an easy play at all. He picked me up, for sure. It’s a swing of emotions. You go from being complete focused and locked in to just relieved.”
Kinsler smacked his 16th homer of the season in the seventh against Danny Barnes to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead.
Urena homered to lead off the bottom of the eighth and Bautista homered with one out to trim Detroit’s lead to one run.
Castellanos hit his third career grand slam in the third inning to put the Tigers ahead 4-0.
“Castellanos is a great hitter, an 0-0 count, he did exactly what you should on that pitch, just a sinker that kind of leaked back over,” Stroman said.
Dixon Machado doubled with two outs, Kinsler singled and Candelario walked to load the bases for Castellanos, who blasted his 21st homer of the season to center field on the first pitch.
“I just told myself to look for something over the plate and drive it to the big part of the field,” Castellanos said.
It was the first grand slam allowed by Stroman.
The Blue Jays scored once in the fifth.
Urena singled with two outs and came home on a bloop double by Teoscar Hernandez on a ball that popped out of the glove of diving center fielder Mikie Mahtook.
NOTES: Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson (illness) was a late scratch from the lineup when he was feeling “under the weather.” ... Toronto OF/INF Steve Pearce (stiff lower back) left the game after the first inning Friday and OF Teoscar Hernandez replaced him. ... The Blue Jays recalled RHP Leonel Campos from Triple-A Buffalo Friday. He had been optioned to Buffalo on Aug. 29, one day after being recalled. ... Detroit 3B Nick Castellanos, who started 126 games at third base and six at DH, started in right field Friday. It was his first outfield appearance since 2013 when he played nine games in left field ... Tigers SS Jose Iglesias (paternity leave) did not play Friday. He was in Miami for the birth of his son. ... Detroit LHP Chad Bell (0-2, 5.98 ERA) opposes Toronto LHP Brett Anderson (0-1, 3.09) in the second game of the series Saturday.