Bullpen blows late lead despite 11-run outburst led by Varsho, Biggio

May 26th, 2024

DETROIT -- It’s rare that a team scores its highest run total of the year and surrenders the most runs in the same game. However, that was the case for the Blue Jays in Sunday’s 14-11 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.

It was a game in which the unexpected happened quite often.

Yimi García, who hadn’t allowed an earned run since April 8, gave up two runs with two outs in the eighth when Mark Canha singled to tie it at 11.

was in a 3-for-31 funk entering Sunday -- he hadn’t registered an extra-base hit since April 22 and hadn’t homered since Opening Day -- but he got the ball rolling with a two-run homer in the fourth after Toronto fell behind, 5-0.

“I was just excited to put us on the board,” said Biggio. “We had to get something going, and it felt good to put us on the board.”

The Blue Jays finally took the lead, 11-9, with a five-run eighth inning. Bo Bichette had a two-out, two-run single to set the stage, before drilled a three-run homer that could’ve easily been the game-winner.

“Honestly, at that moment, I couldn’t believe we were able to come back from that,” said Varsho. “But I thought, overall, the entire offense put together good at-bats all game long. We just couldn’t come out on top at the end.”

Varsho appeared to have saved the day with that three-run homer, his team-leading 10th of the season.

“It was a great feeling,” said Biggio of Varsho’s blast. “He was talking to me a lot in the outfield about how the game today had not really gone his way. So, I knew that he was going to come up in a big way and get it done for us.

“That was a beautiful moment for all of us on the team.”

Varsho smiled and nodded when asked about their outfield chat, and the encouragement from Biggio.

“I was like, ‘I’m 0-for-4 and can’t do anything at the plate,’” Varsho said. “But it’s just nice to have teammates like that who have positivity and confidence in you. And in my next at-bat, I hit a three-run homer. So, it’s pretty cool to have teammates like that who pick you up when you need it most.”

Toronto persevered even if it did not triumph in the end.

“It’s easy to kind of quit after that and the guys did the exact opposite,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider, whose team had scored just three runs in the previous two games combined. “Chipped away and came back with huge hits from Bo and Varsh.

“There were so many things that happened offensively and it was frustrating [to lose] in a frustrating series.”

Toronto took Thursday's series opener, 9-1, but then lost the final three games in Detroit.

“Today was a very tough game to lose,” said Biggio, “but I loved the way they fought. Their bats never seemed to stop, but we had an answer every inning, it seemed like … I think this is a very positive game for us to build off.

“Today was a lot of fun, but we just didn’t end up on the right side of it.”

The Blue Jays’ quality pitching had often gone unrewarded recently. However, they received plenty of offense in this one only to sputter on the mound. Yusei Kikuchi had allowed six runs (five earned) over his last three starts, but he gave up five earned runs in an abbreviated start that was over after three innings.

Biggio had gone 95 at-bats since he last went yard, however, he hunkered down with the team’s hitting coaches, particularly assistant hitting coach Matt Hague.

“It’s been a lot of work over the past couple of weeks on my swing and setup and just overall trying to see the ball better,” said Biggio. “It wasn’t any one thing -- just mainly cleaning it all up and kind of starting my barrel and getting it toward the ball and getting in the zone.”

However, the offense coming alive didn’t prove to be enough.

García, who entered the game with an 0.47 ERA, blew his first save of the season, then closer Jordan Romano gave up a two-out, three-run homer to Matt Vierling as Detroit walked it off in the ninth.

“Today is his only hiccup,” Schneider said of García, “and I’ll take my chances with him and [Jordan] any day of the week.”