Tallet comes up tall to beat Tigers
Southpaw allows just two runs over 6 1/3 frames of work
DETROIT -- The instability in the Blue Jays' pitching staff this year has been palpable because of a combination of injuries, youth and inexperience. On Friday, one of Toronto's many inconsistent pitchers picked up the win while one of the team's most reliable hurlers closed it out in a 6-4 victory over the Tigers.
It was by far Brian Tallet's best performance since he returned to the Toronto rotation on Sept. 1. In his previous five starts before taking the mound at Comerica Park, Tallet was 1-4 with a 9.75 ERA. But on Friday, the lanky left-hander was sharp, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven over 6 1/3 frames.
Tallet struck out the side in order in the fifth inning and stranded three Tigers runners in the sixth by getting Curtis Granderson to fly out harmlessly to center to end that threat.
Meanwhile, Toronto closer Jason Frasor has been solid all season and was again against Detroit, picking up his ninth save in 11 opportunities, further validating himself in his relatively new role. With the 1-2-3 ninth inning, Frasor lowered his ERA to 2.15.
"Whatever role I'm in, I'm happy," Frasor said. "There's not a better job to have on a team [than closer] if you're good at it."
Manager Cito Gaston said Tallet may had his best stuff of the season, and the left-hander was in complete agreement.
"The key was I was able to locate my pitches really well tonight," Tallet said. "You had the wind blowing in slightly, so you were able to pitch to contact. I was able to locate well to get through six innings. Don't get me wrong, my stuff was pretty good tonight, but stuff that is nasty and moves toward the middle of the plate will hurt you. It was about location."
The Toronto offense also produced, although it did strand 15 runners. The Blue Jays drew eight walks, pounded out 12 hits and had two hit batters. Rod Barajas and Randy Ruiz hit seventh-inning homers and Vernon Wells drove in a pair of runs.
The Tigers rallied for two runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera and a sacrifice fly by Marcus Thames to deep right field. Jeremy Accardo then struck out Brandon Inge with two runners on to end the threat and help the Blue Jays maintain a two-run lead. Detroit stranded two more runners in the eighth, when Scott Downs induced Placido Polanco to pop out with two out.
Throughout the first three innings, the Blue Jays did everything but cross home plate. Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the first against Detroit starter Nate Robertson (1-2) after singles by Aaron Hill, who went 4-for-6, and Wells and a walk to Kevin Millar. Barajas ended the inning by hitting a fly ball to the warning track in left.
Consecutive walks put two batters on with two outs in both the second and third innings. But Hill flied out to shallow right in the second and Edwin Encarnacion hit a 360-foot out just short of the fence in the third.
Robertson wasn't fooling many hitters even when he did get an out. All 11 batters he retired hit the ball in the air. In the fourth, the Blue Jays finally broke through with three two-out hits. Hill singled Ruiz to second base and Lind drove Ruiz in with another line-drive single. Wells then doubled into right field for a 2-1 lead. That chased Robertson, who gave up six hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings. Robertson was officially taken out of the game at that point with a left groin strain.
"We let some runs get away from us early a couple of times," Gaston said, "but later we managed to hit some home runs, which was important. It was getting a little scary there in the end."
The Blue Jays added a run in the sixth off reliever Armando Galarraga, who has been in Detroit's rotation for most of the year. Hill's second bloop single of the game moved Scutaro to third, and he came home Wells' sacrifice fly to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.
One batter before Wells' RBI, Lind was hit on the right shin by a Galarraga fastball. He was attended to by Toronto trainer George Poulis for several minutes before trotting to first base. Lind took his defensive spot in left field for the bottom of the sixth, but Travis Snider pinch-hit for Lind in the seventh. Gaston said Lind was day-to-day with a bruised left shin and indicated his outfielder/designated hitter may get a day off Saturday.
Barajas smashed his 17th home run of the season over the left-field fence in the seventh inning, just glancing off the glove of a leaping Ryan Raburn. Two batters later, Ruiz hit his seventh home run of the season, and first with a man on base, when he greeted Detroit rookie Ryan Perry with a 402-foot drive to left-center field. The ball landed near the flagpole where the U.S. flag was flying at half-staff in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C ., and Pennsylvania.
Detroit had taken the lead on a Raburn sacrifice fly in the third, but beyond that, they had few answers for Tallet, who said his ability to get Granderson out with the bases loaded in the sixth was a key point in the game.
"I beat him on a pair of fastballs early in the game, and his first time up he had only seen two pitches," said Tallet. "He hadn't seen my offspeed stuff, so I threw him a nice changeup early in the count and then [Barajas] called a cutter away. So I figured I would elevate it and I got him to pop out."
Frasor's ascension to the closer's role appears to be working out well according to Gaston.
"Often what comes first for a closer is confidence, and from there you get some success," Gaston said. "He's done a nice job for us and seems to be pretty comfortable there."
Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.