TORONTO, ONT – Javier Báez was benched after a baserunning gaffe and Spencer Turnbull pitched five solid innings as the Detroit Tigers avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Thursday night.
Zach McKinstry drove in the go-ahead run and Jake Rogers had two hits and an RBI as Detroit snapped a six-game skid. Turnbull (1-2) allowed one run on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
“It was huge to be able to snap that losing streak tonight,” Turnbull said. “The team needed that.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch removed Báez from the game in the third, one inning after Báez appeared to lose track of the outs and ran into a double play.
“If you watch the last couple of series, we’ve made a number of mental mistakes, and the one thing we can control is our preparedness and our readiness,” Hinch said. “It’s a message to our whole team that we’ve got to clean that up.”
Hinch said Báez would return to the lineup for Friday’s home game against San Francisco.
Báez doubled off the left-field wall with one out in the second but didn’t run hard out of the box, apparently thinking he had homered. He then broke for third and rounded the base on Akil Baddoo’s liner to center and was easily doubled off to end the inning.
“My mind is everywhere right now,” Báez said. “I’m just trying to focus on my hitting and my timing and other stuff.”
Between innings, television cameras caught Hinch and Báez descending the steps that lead from the dugout to the clubhouse for a brief chat. Báez returned to the dugout, grabbed his glove, untucked his shirt and left again.
“Obviously we’ve got to show respect to the game,” Báez said. “He took a decision and I respect that. He’s the manager and we’ve got to respect what he does.”
In 2021, Báez was removed from a game by Cubs manager David Ross after forgetting how many outs there were.
Báez, who didn’t have an extra-base hit this season until his double, said his poor performance so far may have factored into Hinch’s move.
“Anybody can make mistakes,” Báez said. “At this point, the way we’re playing and the way I’m playing, it’s obviously going to be worse. If I’m hot and I have seven homers and I make that same mistake, I would have stayed in the game. I’ve got no excuses. It’s just part of the game.”
Jonathan Schoop came on to play third base in the bottom of the third, with Nick Maton moving from third to the shortstop position vacated by Báez.
Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt (1-2) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
“I’d say my stuff kind of has returned back to normal,” Bassitt said.
Chasen Shreve pitched the sixth for Detroit, Jason Foley worked a 1-2-3 seventh, and José Cisnero handled the eighth. Alex Lange finished for his second career save and first since 2021.
“We’ve had a tough time getting to the 27th out,” Hinch said. “Today, to a man, everybody helped us.”
Detroit opened the scoring on Tyler Nevin’s sacrifice fly in the third. The Blue Jays tied it in the bottom half on a two-out RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
McKinstry broke the deadlock in the fifth when he doubled home Baddoo.
Rogers made it 3-1 with an RBI double off Anthony Bass in the eighth.
Blue Jays: 3B Matt Chapman was scratched about 30 minutes before game time and replaced by Santiago Espinal. The Blue Jays said Chapman was removed because of a viral illness.
In a pregame ceremony, the Blue Jays honored retiring Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera with a framed collection of photos depicting his 500th career home run, which came in Toronto on Aug. 22, 2021.
Tigers: LHP Joey Wentz (0-2, 10.29 ERA) starts Friday as Detroit returns home to host San Francisco. LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 4.50) starts for the Giants.
Blue Jays: RHP José Berríos (0-2, 11.17) starts Friday as Toronto hosts the 13-0 Tampa Bay Rays. RHP Drew Rasmussen (2-0, 0.00) goes for the Rays.