Stuck in an 11-game losing streak Youth Oren Burks Jersey , the Detroit Tigers cleared the air with a pregame meeting. Then Nick Castellanos went out and cleared the bases with an important home run that helped stop Detroit’s slide.

Castellanos hit his fourth career grand slam, Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven strong innings and the Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1 on Sunday.

Manager Ron Gardenhire scheduled the pregame meeting, a relaxed session in which players were invited to say whatever was on their mind. Castellanos called it an opportunity to ”just kind of address the elephant in the room.”

”It gave anybody a chance that wanted to speak up to speak up,” said Castellanos, adding that Victor Martinez, James McCann and Gardenhire were among those who talked.

JaCoby Jones hit a two-run homer as the Tigers won for the first time since June 17, when they completed a three-game road sweep of the Chicago White Sox.

Castellanos nearly hit another home run in the ninth but Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar made a leaping catch at the wall.

”I felt like I was going to have a chance to make a play,” Pillar said. ”A ball like that hit as high as it is it allows me time to kind of track the ball and track the fence and go up to try to make a play. ”

Castellanos stopped on the basepaths to applaud Pillar’s catch before turning and heading back to the dugout.

”What else can you say the end of the day besides `What a play,”’ Castellanos said. ”It sucks it had to happen to me but plays like that have to happen to somebody.”

Niko Goodrum had a career-high four hits and Jose Iglesias had two hits and two RBIs for Detroit, which had lost 12 of 14 at Rogers Centre.

”That was a fun win, a really fun with with a lot of great swings,” Gardenire said.

Zimmermann (3-0) allowed one run and five hits in his third start since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month.

”He had a great curveball today,” Gardenhire said. ”That’s probably the best curveball I’ve seen all year out of him.”

Wearing red jerseys and caps for Canada Day Youth Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey , the Blue Jays couldn’t deliver a win for the holiday crowd of 37,445.

Tigers outfielder Leonys Martin left with a sore left hamstring after his bases-loaded bunt single in the fifth brought home Detroit’s first run. Martin was replaced by Victor Reyes.

Following the game, Gardenhire said Martin would be placed on the 10-day disabled list. A corresponding roster move will be made before Monday afternoon’s series finale.

Castellanos followed with his 13th home run, a shot that bounced off the top of the wall in right. It was his first grand slam since Sept. 8, 2017, also against Toronto.

Castellanos also made a fine catch in right, reaching back to grab Russell Martin’s line drive for the final out of the fourth.

Iglesias chased Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (10-4) with a two-out, two-run single in the sixth.

Happ matched season-worsts by allowing seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.

”It’s not a pretty outing and I own that,” Happ said.

Happ had won six consecutive decisions since his previous defeat, May 10 against Seattle.

Teoscar Hernandez tripled in the first and scored on a two-out double by Justin Smoak, but Zimmermann recovered to retire the next nine Blue Jays batters.

For the second straight game, the roof was closed at Rogers Centre because of high heat and humidity.

MUSIC MAN

Blue Jays RHP John Axford complied a list of more than 500 songs by Canadian artists and has been playing his mix in the clubhouse all weekend. Axford’s `Oh Canada!’ playlist can be streamed using the online music service Spotify.

NOT YOUR DAY

The Blue Jays are 14-26 on Canada Day, including a 12-17 mark at home.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Alex Wilson Youth Ronnie Harrison Jersey , who left in the eighth inning Saturday because of a sore left calf, was not available. … RHP Drew VerHagen (nasal fracture) pitched one scoreless inning for Triple-A Toledo Saturday night, his first rehab appearance. VerHagen has been out since June 20.

Blue Jays: Toronto optioned utilityman Darnell Sweeney to Triple-A Buffalo after the game and will make a corresponding roster move Monday.

UP NEXT

Tigers RHP Mike Fiers (5-4, 4.04) faces Blue Jays LHP Ryan Borucki (0-1, 3.00) in Monday afternoon’s series finale. Fiers is 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts at Rogers Centre. Borucki made his major league debut at Houston last Tuesday, allowing two runs in six innings.




OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics will encounter one of their all-time nemeses Thursday afternoon when they face Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander in the finale of a three-game series.

The Astros have dominated the first two games of the series between American League West rivals, riding a total of 10 RBIs from Evan Gattis to 6-3 and 13-5 victories.

Houston has won seven of eight from Oakland this season.

The Astros have done it without any help from Verlander (8-2, 1.45 ERA), who has yet to face the A’s this season.

They have seen plenty of each other in the veteran’s 14-year career, including five times in the postseason, when Verlander has gone 4-0 against Oakland.

Included in the four wins were Game 5 clinchers for Detroit in 2012, when Verlander pitched a 6-0 shutout Nick Perry Jersey , and 2013, when he threw eight innings of shutout ball in a 3-0 win.

A’s general manager Billy Beane got so fed up losing to Verlander, he attempted to stack the Oakland pitching staff in anticipation of a rematch in 2014, acquiring Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel at midseason at the costly expense of Addison Russell and Yoenis Cespedes.

The A’s, who already had Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir anchoring their staff, never got a shot at Verlander in the playoffs that year, losing 9-8 to Kansas City in the American League wild-card game, which Lester started and Hammel finished.

With Lester, Samardzija and Hammel all leaving the team the following season either via trade or free agency, the A’s haven’t been back in the postseason since. In fact, they’ve never finished higher than fourth place the last three seasons.

Verlander has a 10-6 record and 2.61 ERA in 17 starts against the A’s in his career during the regular season. He’s 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 starts in Oakland.

The A’s will counter with their modern-day version of Verlander, rookie right-hander Frankie Montas (3-0 Youth Logan Cooke Jersey , 1.25), who has been brilliant in three starts this season.

Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in one of Oakland’s many veteran sell-offs since becoming a non-contender in 2015, Montas has allowed a total of three runs in 21 2/3 innings in wins over Arizona and Kansas City (twice).

Montas pitched twice in relief against Houston in 2017, getting shelled in one inning in each appearance.

He gave up three hits and two runs in the ninth inning of a 10-6 loss to the Astros in his 11th career appearance early in the 2017 season, then served up a three-run home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning of a 7-2 loss two weeks later.

Gonzalez had one of Houston’s four home runs in Wednesday’s shellacking, but the story of the game for the second consecutive night was Gattis.

The designated hitter, who had recorded four RBIs nine separate times in his career before this series began, enjoyed his second consecutive five-RBI performance in Wednesday’s win, belting two home runs along the way.

Gattis had been just 3-for-12 with no homers and no RBIs in six games against the A’s this season before exploding for four hits, including three homers, in seven at-bats the last two nights.