TORONTO — The Detroit Tigers will be trying to avoid making more history Sunday afternoon when they face the Toronto Blue Jays on Canada Day at the Rogers Centre.
After Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak smacked a 1-0 fastball from Joe Jimenez for his second career walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/john-kelly-jersey]Authentic John Kelly Jersey[/url] , the Tigers have lost 11 games in a row.
The last time the Tigers put together a losing streak like that was 2003. On Sunday, in the third contest of the four-game series, the Tigers will be trying to avoid dipping deeper into their history by losing 12 in a row for the first time since 1996.
The Tigers will start right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.35 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.62).
Saturday looked promising for the Tigers when they took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Blue Jays came back to tie in the fifth.
Both Toronto wins in the series have been by one run.
“Honestly, nobody wants to play extra innings,” Smoak said. “To be able to do it in the ninth and get it over with is always a good feeling.”
The Tigers would beg to differ. They would have been happy to try their luck in extra innings if that’s what it takes to end their funk.
“We’re all trying hard,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Everybody’s trying. We tried all kinds of things today to try to make this happen. And we were in the game again and ultimately we lose the ballgame.”
The Blue Jays have dominated the Tigers at the Rogers Centre in recent years, winning 12 of their past 14 meetings.
There could be times when it seems as if the Tigers might be trying a little too hard to make things happen and then paying for it. First baseman John Hicks, who hit his seventh home run of the season in the second inning Saturday, was not so sure that is the case.
“I don’t think guys are trying to do anything more than we’ve been trying to do all year,” he said. “We’re in a losing streak, but we’re going out every day playing the same way we’ve been playing all year. But when you are losing, things get magnified.”
Losing a close game or a lopsided one does not matter, Hicks said [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/kentrell-brice-jersey-cheap]Kentrell Brice Jersey[/url] , adding “A loss is a loss.
“They all stink, every loss is frustrating. It just happens to be in a losing streak, so it happens to magnify things more. We’ve had opportunities to win pretty much every ballgame we’ve lost.”
The task Sunday falls to Zimmermann, who will make his 10th start of the season.
Despite pitching five scoreless innings Monday against the Oakland Athletics, Zimmermann did not factor in the decision, He allowed four hits and three walks and struck out three.
In three career starts against the Blue Jays, Zimmermann is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA. This will be his first start against Toronto since June 8, 2016, when he took the loss, giving up seven runs and eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He will be making his first career start at the Rogers Centre.
Happ has not lost since May 10. In his eight starts since, he is 6-0 with a 2.60 ERA. One of the no-decisions came June 2 in Detroit when he allowed four runs and had eight strikeouts against the Tigers in five innings.
In nine career games (eight starts) against the Tigers, he is 3-1 with a 4.10 ERA.
The Blue Jays lead the season series between the teams 3-2. Two games are left.
Both teams had injuries to relief pitchers Saturday. The Blue Jays put Ryan Tepera on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow and recalled Jake Petricka from Triple-A Buffalo.
Tigers reliever Alex Wilson left the game — and was replaced by Jimenez — in the eighth inning with a strained left calf. He is listed as day to day.
Fletcher Cox is playing in the first Super Bowl he’s seeing.
Or so he says.
The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a big reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are facing the New England Patriots next Sunday in Minneapolis for a chance to bring home the franchise’s first Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But the 27-year-old Cox isn’t much of a football fan. He insists he’s never even watched a Super Bowl.
”I don’t watch sports,” Cox said. ”You know that.”
If he spends the night getting in Tom Brady’s face and helps the Eagles win their first NFL title since 1960, Cox may want to watch the highlights sometime.
First, all that matters is winning.
”We haven’t been talked about all year,” Cox said. ”That’s our story. No one has been talking about the Eagles [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/pernell-mcphee-jersey]Authentic Pernell McPhee Jersey[/url] , the defense, or the offense. If you go back and look, we finished in the top five of a bunch of different categories. This team just keeps finding ways to win, and that’s our motto.”
Cox, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, had 5+ sacks in 14 games, recovered two fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. He often faces two or three blockers, so that allows his teammates opportunities to make plays.
”Cox is as good as anybody in the league at his position,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ”He’s a very disruptive player, hard to block, run, pass, no matter what it is.”
Earning praise from Belichick doesn’t come easy. Cox appreciates it.
”It’s a lot of respect from a coach like Belichick, a guy that’s been around, a guy that’s seen a lot of great players in this league,” he said. ”For him to say that that means I obviously must be doing something right. But at the same time [url=http://www.baltimoreravensteamauthentic.com/anthony-averett-jersey]Authentic Anthony Averett Jersey[/url] , I’ve got three other guys besides me that’s helping me push that limit, that’s helping me get that recognition and I want to do the same thing for those guys.”
The Eagles have plenty of depth on their defensive line. Ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and tackle Tim Jernigan start along with Cox. Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Beau Allen also played at least 40 percent of the snaps.
”I wish it was just four (linemen),” Belichick said. ”It’s a very disruptive group. They have some edge rushers, a good interior pass rush. They come hard every play. You have to block them on every play. There are no plays off. To deal with that front down after down, they wear you down. It’s a great group and a huge strength for their defense.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has enough confidence in all the players to rotate them in and out for series at a time. Because they split reps, they still look fresh this late in the season. It showed in a pair of dominant performances against the Falcons and Vikings in the playoffs.
”To roll in that many guys and not see a drop-off, it’s great,” Cox said. ”We’re pushing those guys to be on the same level as us.”
Cox knows harassing Brady is the key to success against the Patriots. The Giants sacked Brady five times in their stunning Super Bowl upset 10 years ago, spoiling New England’s perfect season.
Led by Cox and Graham, the Eagles generate a strong rush without having to blitz much. They’ll need to keep extra defenders in the secondary against Brady.
”It’s going to come down to the front four guys getting after the quarterback, making him uncomfortable in the pocket,” Cox said.
Easier said than done against Brady.
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