TORONTO (Detroit Free Press) — Max Scherzer pitched a gem and the Detroit Tigers' offense did enough to earn a victory over the nine innings.
But Joe Nathan blew the save in the ninth inning and the Tigers went on to lose, 3-2 in 10 innings to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday at Rogers Centre. Nathan gave up two hits, two walks (one intentional) and the tying run in 1⁄3 of an inning before he was replaced by Joakim Soria.
Soria needed five pitches to get the final two outs in the ninth, but he suffered a left side strain. He came back out to pitch the 10th but, before he threw a warm-up pitch, trainer Kevin Rand and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus came out to visit him on the mound. Soria walked off and Joba Chamberlain, who had not been warming up in the bullpen, was brought into the game.
Chamberlain gave up a single to Danny Valencia, who came home to score on Nolan Reimold's double to left-center.
"I didn't really know what to do," Chamberlain said. "It's just weird warming up out there….Obviously, that's not an excuse. I didn't do my job and that's frustrating. Warming up different is not an excuse. I gotta make better pitches."
Chamberlain said he threw a slider to Reimold: "It was away, but it was up a little bit. I faced Nolan a lot when he was in Baltimore so kind of knew what his plan was….Like I said, I didn't do my job. He did his and we lose the game."
Scherzer allowed four hits, no walks and one run over eight innings with 11 strikeouts. He threw 106 pitches and exhausted all he had getting back-to-back strikeouts on six pitches against pinch-hitters Valencia and Reimold in the eighth.
"Against pinch-hitters, they're looking to hit the fastball," Scherzer said. "I knew if I was going to throw a fastball in those situations, I gotta give them the best ones of the day. In the eighth, I really let it fly."
Scherzer agreed that he was done after eight innings.
"I was done, there's nothing else too it," Scherzer said. "I was done. We're not going to sit here and play second-guessing the manager. I was done."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus opted to bring in Nathan to pitch the ninth instead. Nathan gave up a leadoff single to Jose Reyes, who stole second and advanced to third when Melky Cabrera flied out to right.
The Tigers intentionally walked Jose Bautista (22 home runs). Dioner Navarro hit an RBI single on a ground ball to right.
"He got the ground ball we needed when we wanted the double play," Ausmus said. "It just went between first and second, a spot where no one was standing. … Sometimes, the ball doesn't roll where you want it."
Nathan then threw a wild pitch to put runners on second and third before giving up a walk to Colby Rasmus to load the bases with one out.
Nathan had thrown 26 pitches (12 strikes) in Friday's 5-4 win. He threw 28 pitches on Saturday, 13 for strikes.
Ausmus then brought in Soria with the bases loaded. Juan Francisco popped out to short and Munenori Kawasaki grounded out to first.
Victor Martinez delivered a two-out, two-run double to left in the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie for the Tigers. Martinez now has 68 RBIs for the season.
Blue Jays right-handed starter Marcus Stroman had limited the Tigers to two hits and two walks over the first four innings. With two outs, Stroman gave up a single to Ian Kinsler, a walk to Miguel Cabrera, and then the double to Martinez.
Cabrera finished 0-for-3 in the game with a walk and a run scored. He's 1-for-18 (.056) on the road trip. But he scored from first on the double, a sign that whatever is causing him problems at the plate has not robbed him of his ability to run.
The Blue Jays answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Reyes singled and came home on a double to center by Melky Cabrera.