|4:07 PM PT5:07 PM MT6:07 PM CT7:07 PM ET19:07 ET23:07 GMT7:07 4:07 PM MST6:07 PM EST6:37 PM VEN3:07 UAE (+1)6:07 PM CT, June 29, 2018
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario Attendance: 24,068
Tigers take nine-game skid into series opener vs. Blue Jays
Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
- The Tigers will travel across the border to face the Blue Jays for their second series of 2018. The Tigers took two of three in Detroit, but the Blue Jays have won 10 of the last 13 in Toronto dating back to 2014.
- The Tigers have lost nine consecutive games and haven't shut out an opponent since April 8. Their streak of 74 games without a shutout is longest in MLB this season, recently topping the Blue Jays' previous high of 69 games.
- The Blue Jays have won eight of their last nine at home, with at least 10 hits in six of the nine games. They had only reached 10 hits in seven of their previous 31 home games.
- Nicholas Castellanos is on a five-game hitting streak, with two hits in four of the five games. He is batting .425 against lefties this season, highest mark in MLB (minimum 75 plate appearances).
- Kevin Pillar had his first three-hit game since April 18 in Toronto's loss to Houston. He is slashing just .202/.202/.340 with seven extra-base hits in the month of June after slashing .271/.314/.444 with 26 extra-base hits previously.
- Francisco Liriano returned from a hamstring injury and pitched 4.0 innings, giving up two earned runs in a loss to Cleveland. His road ERA is 2.80 compared to 5.47 at home this season and his .250 opponent slugging percentage on the road is lowest in MLB (minimum 35 innings pitched on road).
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TORONTO -- A year ago at this time, Francisco Liriano was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays amid speculation that he would be traded.
The left-hander is again a subject of trade speculation as he returns to the Rogers Centre on Friday night as the starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, who will try to end a nine-game losing streak in the opener of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Tigers (36-46) lost 4-2 to the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Jays (37-43) had the day off after completing a 3-4 trip with a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday on Alex Bregman's two-run, walk-off homer.
Both teams are expected to trade some veteran players by the July 31 deadline for deals without waivers.
Liriano (3-3, 3.94 ERA) will face Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman (0-5, 6.80). Both pitchers will make their second start after returning from the disabled list.
The Blue Jays did trade Liriano on July 31 to the Astros, who went on to win the World Series. In the deal, Toronto received outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who has become a regular.
Liriano signed with the Tigers as a free agent on Feb. 23.
He will make his 12th start of the season in the series opener. Liriano went on the DL with a strained right hamstring after making his start on May 26 and did not pitch again until Saturday when he took the loss at Cleveland, allowing three runs (two earned), four hits and three walks in four innings.
All of the runs came in a 40-pitch first inning. He did not allow another hit in the next three innings.
"I was rushing things," Liriano said. "I hadn't pitched in a while and I was trying to do too much, trying to do more than I can do, and I ended up missing pitches. ... Everything feels great. Leg feels good, body feels nice."
The 34-year-old has faced the Blue Jays seven times in his career, including five starts, going 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA. He last pitched against Toronto on Aug. 5 with Houston when he took the loss after allowing one run, one hit and one walk in two-thirds of an inning in relief.
In 18 career appearances, including 17 starts, at the Rogers Centre, Liriano is 8-4 record with a 4.03 ERA and 98 strikeouts.
Stroman also returned from the DL on Saturday when he allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five in five scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels. He did not factor in the decision of a game the Blue Jays won 4-1.
He had not pitched since May 8 because of inflammation in his right shoulder, a problem that shortened his spring training. Stroman believes that in retrospect he probably should have taken a couple of more weeks to build up the shoulder before starting to pitch in the regular season.
"When I'm going good, I feel like I'm pitching at 80, 85 percent and that's where I'm at right now," Stroman said. "Earlier in the season, I was max effort, I was pitching at 100 percent every pitch and now I'm back to being very free and easy. Once I'm free and easy, I can do whatever I want."
Stroman said the shoulder "feels way better."
"I'm moving way easier, I can pause, I can mess with my delivery now, I can do many things I wasn't able to do previously in the year," he added. "Feels great."
In two career starts against the Tigers, he is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA.
The Tigers won two of three games against the Blue Jays at Comerica Park on June 1-3. Detroit will try to win its first season series against Toronto since 2013. The Tigers lost two of three games at the Rogers Centre last season, the fourth straight series they have dropped in Toronto.
Updated June 28, 2018