Detroit — For six innings, Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah, the hulking 6-6, 260-pound rookie, was as oppressive and defeating as the heavy, 90-degree air at Comerica Park Saturday night.
He’d allowed just one single through six innings, piling up seven strikeouts, and the 2-0 lead he took into the seventh inning seemed commanding.
But these aren’t your 2019 Tigers. They scratched out two runs in the seventh inning to tie it and eventually get it to extra innings.
The Blue Jays, who are still battling for a wild-card spot in the American League, scored their free runner in the top of the 10th inning and staved off the Tigers 3-2 to even the series.
A bloop single to left field by Corey Dickerson off right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, plated Vlad Guerrero Jr., who was the free runner at second base to start the 10th. Left fielder Akil Baddoo charged the ball and made a strong through to the plate, but Guerrero slid across ahead of the tag.
Dickerson had three hits and a walk for the Jays.
The Tigers inserted Zack Short to pinch-run to start the bottom of the 10th, but he was thrown out at third on a strong play by shortstop Bo Bichette, who fielded Harold Castro’s ground ball nearly behind second base.
BOX SCORE: Blue Jays 3, Tigers 2, 10 innings
They didn’t get another runner into scoring position against Jays closer Jordan Romano.
It was the Tigers’ fourth extra inning game in their last seven. They are 2-2 in those games.
Jonathan Schoop and Robbie Grossman started the seventh with singles. For Grossman, it was the first time he faced a traditional three-man outfield alignment in the game. The Jays played four outfielders against him with the bases empty in his first two at-bats.
After Manoah struck out Miguel Cabrera with a well-located, 95-mph fastball (his eighth strikeout), Jeimer Candelario lined an RBI single to center. Manoah had gotten called third strikes on Candelario the first two times up.
Trevor Richards replaced Manoah and gave up a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder to Eric Haase. Haase hustled down the line and just avoided the double play. Tie score.
Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto put up zeros in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
The Blue Jays broke a scoreless tie in the sixth on a solo homer by catcher Alejandro Kirk. He hit a cutter thrown by Tigers’ lefty Tyler Alexander. The cutter had helped Alexander dispatch the first five hitters he faced.
The one he threw to Kirk cut to the inside part of the plate like it was supposed to but Kirk was able to turn on it and bash it 412 feet over the bullpens in left.
The Blue Jays added a run to Alexander’s ledger in the seventh — though he didn’t much deserve it. Randal Grichuk led off the inning with a routine popup behind second base. Willi Castro misjudged it off the bat and the ball fell a couple of feet in front of him.
Grichuk scored with two outs on a single by Bo Bichette off reliever Jason Foley.
It was an encouraging return for veteran right-hander Jose Urena. Making his first start since July 17, he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three hits. He faced 11 hitters in 49 pitches. Very efficient.
The Tigers opted to activate Urena now, even though he’s not fully built up. Thus, he was used as an opener Saturday.
The Blue Jays stacked their lineup with eight right-handed hitters in anticipation of facing lefty Alexander for the bulk of the innings, which is what was planned. Right-hander Alex Lange pitched a scoreless fourth and then Alexander took over in the fifth.
But Alexander ended up throwing the same number of pitches as Urena, 49, in 2 2/3 innings, and being charged with the two runs.