Nathan rocked again as Tigers fall
DETROIT (AP) – Joe Nathan’s latest poor performance came at home, so the Detroit fans booed the closer who was brought in this season to put a stop to these late-inning meltdowns.
“They can boo me all they want. I’m my own worst critic,” Nathan said.
In a game that was scoreless until the ninth inning, Nathan allowed four runs during a big burst by the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Tigers ended up losing 5-3 on Tuesday night. Nathan has now allowed eight runs in his last three appearances, the first two of which came on a recent road trip.
“I’m at a loss for words. I thought I threw pretty well,” Nathan said. “I’ve got to be better. A lot of bad luck out there, too. But the biggest thing is another loss for the team.”
After eight innings of crisp, scoreless baseball between the AL East and AL Central leaders, both bullpens came unglued in the ninth. The Blue Jays took the lead against Nathan (2-2), and they kept scoring after he was pulled from the game. Brett Lawrie hit a three-run homer off Al Alburquerque to make it 5-0.
J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the Tigers. Casey Janssen came on and struck out Don Kelly for his ninth save in 10 chances.
Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez and Toronto’s Drew Hutchison each pitched seven impressive innings.
Dustin McGowan (3-2) worked the eighth for the win.
Detroit’s bullpen struggled at times last year too, so the Tigers signed Nathan as a free agent in the offseason. His ERA is now an unsightly 6.86.
“If he’s struggling mentally there’s certainly something we can do to help him,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “Joe’s been very good for a very long time, I expect him to be very good for the Tigers and he expects himself to be very good, but even the best have rough times.”
The 39-year-old right-hander walked Anthony Gose to start the ninth – Toronto’s first baserunner since the fourth inning. Gose stole second and went to third on a single by Jose Reyes. After a popup by Melky Cabrera gave the Tigers hope of escaping the jam, Jose Bautista put the Blue Jays ahead with an RBI single up the middle.
Bautista’s grounder slipped between shortstop Andrew Romine and second baseman Ian Kinsler. Romine appeared to shy away at the last second, as if Kinsler’s presence distracted him.
Nathan nearly picked Reyes off third, but the safe call was upheld after a replay review. After Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases, pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly off Ian Krol for the game’s second run.
Lawrie then went deep off Alburquerque for his ninth homer of the year.
Martinez homered off Steve Delabar to make it 5-3, but all that did was enable the Tigers to avoid a second straight shutout. Detroit has lost three straight.
Hutchison allowed three hits and struck out seven, while Sanchez allowed two hits with five strikeouts. Neither starter walked a batter.
“I didn’t really get going and get into a good rhythm until probably about the fourth or the fifth,” Hutchison said. “Obviously, I believe I’m a good pitcher, and I’m capable of doing that every night, and that’s what I expect out of myself.”