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Blue Jays fall as Happ struggles in fifth inning

Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- J.A. Happ had another classic outing going for the first four innings on Canada Day in Toronto, but it quickly fell apart late in the fifth inning.

The Blue Jays managed just a single run in the first inning and couldn't push another across in the 9-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Happ lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits, both of which are tied for season highs.

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TORONTO -- J.A. Happ had another classic outing going for the first four innings on Canada Day in Toronto, but it quickly fell apart late in the fifth inning.

The Blue Jays managed just a single run in the first inning and couldn't push another across in the 9-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Happ lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits, both of which are tied for season highs.

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"I felt like I was a pitch away from getting out of it," Happ said after the loss. "Again, I look at the hard-hit balls and there was two or three today. I didn't feel like I was in the middle of the zone getting hurt today, but it is what it is. It's not a pretty outing."

Happ carried a shutout into the fifth, but loaded the bases with two outs. Leonys Martin surprised everyone by dropping a great bunt down the third-base line, however, and Happ didn't have a chance to make a play.

"It worked, that's all I'm going to say about that," Happ said. "I think it gives an indication of how he probably felt about that at-bat, but he played down a nice bunt and it worked."

The next batter, Nicholas Castellanos, promptly took Happ deep for a grand slam to break the game open. It was a close call, too, as the 375-foot blast bounced off the top of the wall in right field and soared into the seats.

Video: TOR@DET: Castellanos drills his 4th career grand slam

Happ couldn't stop the bleeding in the sixth, either, and allowed two more runs before being pulled after 97 pitches. Two of the hits that Happ allowed in that inning, including a two-run single, had exit velocities below 70 mph, but found a place to fall in the shallow outfield. The outing raised Happ's ERA back to 4.03.

"For me, I look at whether I was in the middle of the plate and did they hit the ball hard, and I can't say yes to either of those," Happ said. "At least not often."

The timing of Happ's tough outing is magnified by the calendar turning to July, which means that the Major League Baseball's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is just over four weeks away. With the Blue Jays well back in the American League Wild Card race, Happ is expected to be one of the most appealing pitchers available this month.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Justin Smoak put the Blue Jays on the board in the bottom of the first when he muscled a double past first baseman John Hicks, who got a piece of it before it skipped into the stands. That double, with an exit velocity of 102.3 mph, scored Teoscar Hernandez, who tripled on a deep fly ball earlier in the inning.

Video: DET@TOR: Smoak drives in Hernandez with an RBI double

SOUND SMART
Hernandez's triple in the first inning was already his sixth of the season, which is the most by any Blue Jays player since Rajai Davis had six in 2011. 

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Kevin Pillar made one of the best catches you'll see all season in the ninth inning, giving Blue Jays a reason to cheer.

"Just another one for his old highlight reel," said manager John Gibbons. "He's got a thick one."

• Pillar scales wall to rob Castellanos of home run

Castellanos launched a 395-foot shot to center field that looked like it was going to scrape over the wall, but Pillar soared into the air, climbed the wall, and brought it back at the peak of his jump. Even Castellanos stood still at first base to applaud the effort.

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

Video: Must C Catch: Pillar's wall-stepping grab in CF

HE SAID IT
"Why are you guys here?" -- Gibbons, to media after the game upon learning the Toronto Maple Leafs had signed John Tavares and were currently holding a press conference 

ON THE MOVE
After the game, the Blue Jays optioned utility man Darnell Sweeney to Triple-A Buffalo. Sweeney was a defensive replacement late in Sunday's game. The Blue Jays will make a corresponding roster move on Monday prior to the series finale.

UP NEXT
Ryan Borucki will make his second career start for the Blue Jays in Monday's series finale at 1:07 p.m. ET. Borucki moved into the rotation when Aaron Sanchez hit the disabled list, and held the Houston Astros to just two runs over six innings in his debut last week. Prior to that, the 24-year-old lefty posted a 3.27 ERA over 13 starts with Triple-A Buffalo. Mike Fiers takes the mound for the Tigers.

Keegan Matheson is a contributor to MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.A. Happ