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Tigers' skid reaches 11 straight after walk-off

MLB.com @beckjason

TORONTO -- First came the injury. Then came the insult.

As Justin Smoak's walk-off home run sailed into the club-level seats in right-center field at Rogers Centre, an estimated 409-foot loft leading off the bottom of the ninth that completed the Blue Jays' comeback in a 4-3 Detroit defeat Saturday afternoon, there was little suspense in the Tigers' fate. It was an anticlimactic ending to a game the Tigers seemingly controlled midway through.

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TORONTO -- First came the injury. Then came the insult.

As Justin Smoak's walk-off home run sailed into the club-level seats in right-center field at Rogers Centre, an estimated 409-foot loft leading off the bottom of the ninth that completed the Blue Jays' comeback in a 4-3 Detroit defeat Saturday afternoon, there was little suspense in the Tigers' fate. It was an anticlimactic ending to a game the Tigers seemingly controlled midway through.

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Video: DET@TOR: Smoak cranks tape-measure walk-off HR in 9th

Detroit had a 3-0 lead with starter Matthew Boyd throwing no-hit ball against his former team heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. At game's end, the Tigers had an 11-game losing streak, its longest since losing 11 in a row from Aug. 13-23, 2003.

Detroit has gone from within a game of .500 a couple weeks ago to being linked with a 2003 team that set an American League record with 119 losses. This year's club isn't headed for that territory, but its slide out of what had been a season of exceeding expectations has been stunningly swift, so much so that many still struggle with what to make of it.

"We're all trying hard," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Everybody's trying. We tried all kinds of things today to try to make this happen. We were in the game again, but ultimately we lose the ballgame. Our pitcher did a nice job, left with a tie ballgame, was throwing the ball fine, had one bad inning. It came down to who got the big hit at the end, and they got the big hit."

Video: DET@TOR: Castellanos lines 2-run homer to LF in 3rd

John Hicks' second-inning solo home run and Nicholas Castellanos' two-run homer in the third had the Tigers in front against Jays starter Sam Gaviglio, but they struggled to add on. It wasn't for stagnancy; Jeimer Candelario tried to steal second on a 2-2 pitch to Victor Martinez with two outs in the opening inning and was thrown out. The same fate befell 6-foot-6 catcher Grayson Greiner after a leadoff walk in the seventh.

"We've been in this streak, and you can sit there and go base to base or we can try to do some things," Gardenhire said.

After Randal Grichuk's two-run homer keyed a three-run fifth to tie it, Hicks struck out with runners at the corners in the sixth inning. A pair of singles leading off the eighth inning went unrewarded when Joe Biagini retired the middle of the Tigers lineup in order from there.

Video: DET@TOR: Grichuk belts a 2-run homer to left field

"Guys were trying to make something happen," Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately we lost the ballgame, but that's the way we have to play. We've played that way all the way up until now, and we can't stop. We put some hit-and-runs on. We tried to be aggressive. Hopefully we'll continue to do that, because the only way we're going to get out of this thing is to continue to press the issue."

Boyd struck out seven batters in six quality innings, taking a no-decision. Alex Wilson retired the Jays in order in the seventh but left an eighth-inning jam with a left calf strain. Joe Jimenez (3-1) escaped the jam, striking out Kendrys Morales after Leonys Martin threw out Devon Travis at the plate, but struggled in his second inning of work for the second time this week, yielding Smoak's homer on his second pitch of the ninth.

"It was power versus power," Gardenhire said. "He got that one a little too much of the plate, and the guy hit it a long way."

Video: DET@TOR: Boyd coaxes inning-ending double play in 6th

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Martin gets another assist: Rarely does a scouting report advise baserunners not to test a center fielder, but Martin picked up his ninth assist of the season when Travis rounded third on Yangervis Solarte's single, keeping the game tied. Martin is tied with former Mariners teammate Mitch Haniger for the AL lead in assists; his 59 outfield assists since 2013 tie him with Gerardo Parra for most among active players in the Majors in that span.

Video: DET@TOR: Martin throws out go-ahead run in the 8th

SOUND SMART
The Tigers haven't lost 12 games in a row since 1996, when they had two such streaks, most recently Sept. 7-19. Among the pitchers taking a loss in that streak was current Tigers bullpen coach A.J. Sager.

HE SAID IT
"There's things that we can do better, but we're not playing bad. We played good baseball today. They played better. That's how it happens. It may seem dire, but it's not. We're close to where we want to be." -- Boyd, on the losing streak

INJURY REPORT
Wilson is considered day to day after straining his left calf, an injury he believes could be related to the left plantar fascia rupture he suffered earlier this year.

"The mound here is extremely soft, softer than any other mound," Wilson said. "And where I land, the guy who pitched before me had created a big hole. And when I was sliding into it, my heel was just catching and zinging up my calf. It tightened up just above my achilles, and I was getting zings every pitch."

Video: DET@TOR: Wilson exits with calf tightness in the 8th

UP NEXT
The Tigers and Blue Jays will celebrate Canada Day on Sunday with a 1:07 p.m. ET matinee at Rogers Centre. Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.35 ERA) will try to build on his five scoreless innings from his last outing when he takes the mound for his third start back from the disabled list. J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.62) starts for the Jays with wins in his last six decisions.

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

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