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Castellanos' grand slam ends Tigers' skid

Slugger robbed of 2nd HR by Pillar in 9th; Zimmermann shuts down Blue Jays
MLB.com @beckjason

TORONTO -- The Tigers spent Sunday morning in a team meeting talking through their 11-game losing streak. Nicholas Castellanos spent his afternoon trying to slug their way out of it.

As Castellanos' opposite-field drive bounced off the very top of the right-field wall and over for a fifth-inning, go-ahead grand slam, it wasn't a sigh of relief he was feeling, he said. It's not like they hadn't had chances to win this week.

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TORONTO -- The Tigers spent Sunday morning in a team meeting talking through their 11-game losing streak. Nicholas Castellanos spent his afternoon trying to slug their way out of it.

As Castellanos' opposite-field drive bounced off the very top of the right-field wall and over for a fifth-inning, go-ahead grand slam, it wasn't a sigh of relief he was feeling, he said. It's not like they hadn't had chances to win this week.

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"We've played a lot of good baseball. We've had a lot of leads," Castellanos said after the Tigers' 9-1 win ended their longest skid since 2003 and spoiled the Blue Jays' Canada Day festivities. "We had just some unfortunate stuff.

"At the end of the day, yeah, we lost 11 in a row. But it's only as bad as you let it affect you. So everybody just keep doing their job, keeping their head down, and it's going to end sooner or later."

It ended sooner, and in decisive fashion against All-Star candidate J.A. Happ. By the end, it took a highlight reel catch from Kevin Pillar to keep the Tigers out of double digits.

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

"We've been through a lot," manager Ron Gardenhire said afterwards. "It's good to hear the music playing out there [in the clubhouse] and guys smiling.

It didn't look likely the way things went early. Happ (10-4), unbeaten since May 10, held the Tigers scoreless for four innings on three hits, two of which were erased on double plays. The lefty retired Detroit's first two batters in the fifth before back-to-back singles from Niko Goodrum and Jose Iglesias sparked a two-out rally.

Video: DET@TOR: Iglesias plates 2 runs with a bloop single

JaCoby Jones, who broke an 0-for-20 slump his previous at-bat with a third-inning double, showed a flash of plate discipline with a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Leonys Martin then caught the Jays by surprise, dropping a bunt to the third-base side of the mound.

"Thank God I thought about what they were giving me," Martin said. "[Third baseman Yangervis] Solarte was playing deep and I see I had a good chance. I trust myself that I can do it. I'm facing a tough pitcher, lefty-lefty."

Happ fielded the ball to the third-base side of the mound with an out at any base. As he looked to home, then to first, he found he had none. That tied the game and extended the inning for Castellanos, 10-for-18 with three extra-base hits for his career off Happ. He sent Happ's next pitch out -- barely -- to right field.

"At this point, it doesn't matter who we beat," Castellanos said. "We just want to win."

Castellanos' fourth home run in eight games marked his fourth career grand slam, and his first since last Sept. 8, also hit at Rogers Centre off Marcus Stroman.

Another two-out rally the next inning, capped by Iglesias' two-run bloop single, stretched the Tigers' lead to 7-1 off Happ (10-4) before Jones' two-run homer in the ninth put the game away.

Video: DET@TOR: Jones smacks a homer off the top of the wall

It was a reward for a day that began with a frank talk between Gardenhire and his players about the skid and how to get out of it.

"It was just a casual talk, honestly," Gardenhire said. "It wasn't rah-rah or any of the great speeches. I just let them talk. I said, 'What do you got? Tell me what we need to do.' Guys spoke up."

Among those speaking was Castellanos, who talked about Victor Martinez bouncing back from a rough first half early in his career.

"It was more of a we're-all-in-this-together conversation," Castellanos said.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Zimmermann provides shutdown inning: Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (3-0) earned the win with seven innings of one-run ball, building off his five scoreless innings Monday against Oakland. But no inning was bigger than the bottom of the fifth, immediately after the Tigers pulled ahead. After back-to-back one-out infield singles gave the Jays a chance to answer, Zimmermann struck out Curtis Granderson on a high slider and retired Teoscar Hernandez to end the threat.

"I definitely wanted a shutdown inning," Zimmermann said. "It's key for our hitters to get them back out there the next inning feeling good. I wasn't 1-2-3, but I was happy to get out of there with a zero and get them back swinging."

Video: DET@TOR: Zimmermann strikes out 6 in 7 solid innings

INJURY REPORT
The Tigers' rally came at a price. Martin sustained a left hamstring cramp running out his bunt single and left the game, replaced by Victor Reyes. Martin will go onto the disabled list, the Tigers announced after the game. More >

Video: DET@TOR: Martin bunts in a run before getting injured

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Castellanos came within a highlight grab of a two-homer game, sending a drive to deep left-center in the ninth, but Pillar climbed the fence and reached over to keep it in. Even Castellanos applauded Pillar on his way back to the dugout.

"It stinks it has to happen to me," Castellanos said, "but plays like that have to happen to somebody."

HE SAID IT
"We have each other's backs. It's a tough time, but we never stop fighting. We were always in games." -- Goodrum, whose first career four-hit game resulted in three runs

Video: DET@TOR: Goodrum picks up 4 hits vs. the Blue Jays

UP NEXT
With Canada Day weekend extended to Monday this year for the legal holiday, the Tigers finish up the wraparound series with a 1:07 p.m. ET matinee at Rogers Centre. Mike Fiers (5-5, 4.04 ERA) gets the start hoping to build on seven innings of one-run ball from his last start against Oakland. He's 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts at Toronto.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos