video thumbnail

DET@TOR: Fister stellar, fans nine over eight innings

TORONTO -- The Tigers entered Sunday's series finale mired in a three-game skid, looking to avoid dropping four straight for the first time since April.

Detroit turned to Doug Fister to help stop the bleeding and he delivered by continuing his string of recent dominance.

Fister threw eight innings of one-run ball, while Jhonny Peralta blasted a pair of homers, to help the Tigers avoid a sweep and defeat the Blue Jays, 4-1, in front of 35,975 at Rogers Centre.

"I thought he did a great job of keeping [the Blue Jays] off balance," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said about Fister. "When Doug is cutting the ball -- running it inside, cutting it away, mixing in his curveball and changeup -- he's pretty effective."

Fister had his full arsenal working for him and, besides a first-inning run he allowed, had little trouble putting away a potent Blue Jays lineup.

After the right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Rajai Davis -- who eventually scored Toronto's only run -- in the first, he went into cruise control, retiring eight straight -- four by way of strikeout -- before issuing back-to- back singles in the third. He got Brett Lawrie to ground out to end the mini-threat and escaped a pair of jams with two out and two on in the following innings.

"He made pitches when he had to. He doesn't panic and moves the ball around pretty good," Leyland said. "He's pretty good at staying calm when he gets in a tight situation, and I think that is a trait of a real good pitcher."

Fister finished the game by retiring 10 of the final 12 batters he faced before turning the ball over to closer Jose Valverde in the ninth, who pitched a clean frame to earn his 20th save of the season.

The win improved Fister's record to 5-7 and lowered his ERA under 4.00 -- to 3.77 -- for the first time in over a month. Fister, who turned in his fourth consecutive quality start, allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out nine.

Over the four quality starts, Fister is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, and has registered 31 strikeouts to just five walks.

"It's just a matter of making adjustments," Fister said about his recent run of success. "It's a step in the right direction of where we want to be right now."

Fister said the key has been his ability to execute his pitches and game plan better than he was earlier in the season. Leyland felt that Fister and backup catcher Gerald Laird, who got the start on Sunday, were on the same page and applauded Laird for his game-calling.

The 28-year-old Fister had everything working for him, but there was one pitch that stood out to Blue Jays manager John Farrell.

"Fister was outstanding today. Very good curveball -- both to righties and lefties," Farrell said. "Even though we were able to manufacture the run in the first inning, other than that, he made some key pitches."

Out of the nine strikeouts Fister recorded, six of them came on his curveball.

He was able to work with a lead for most of the day, thanks to Peralta, who had a big day at the plate and got things going for the Tigers offensively in the second inning.

Delmon Young led off the frame with a walk and Ryan Raburn followed by hitting a double to left to set the stage for Peralta.

Peralta and Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil engaged in a nine-pitch battle before the Tigers' shortstop drilled a 3-2 hanging curveball to left for his seventh homer of the season, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead.

"I hit it pretty good, I didn't know for sure it was gone," Peralta said. "It's tough, he's a pretty good pitcher. He has good stuff -- a good curveball, good cutter and changeup."

Peralta was at it again in the ninth, providing Detroit with some insurance by blasting his second homer of the day -- his first multihomer game of the season -- to account for the game's final score. The 30-year-old has hit three of his eight homers and driven in 10 of his 37 runs since the All-Star break.

Cecil pitched a strong game, but fell to 2-4 on the year. The lefty lasted 6 2/3 innings, surrendering three runs on four hits, while walking four and striking out seven. He threw his third consecutive quality start and is averaging a career-high 8.18 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Tigers scored just eight runs over the three-game set with the Blue Jays and won for the second time in their past six games. Detroit will head to Boston next to wrap up its three-city, nine-game road trip.

"It's never easy there, no matter what," Leyland said about Boston. "They have a really good team. They have been kind of ... Jekyll and Hyde so far. They had a lot of injuries early on and they got some guys back now, so that's never easy. You just got to go and play good baseball."

MLB.com Comments