Blue Jays manager John Gibbons knows that in baseball, not even a rotation with three Cy Young Award winners is invincible. But as Gibbons said Friday of the Tigers' starting staff, "they're pretty [darn] good."
On Saturday afternoon, as Toronto and Detroit continue their weekend series, Max Scherzer will be the next in the gauntlet of tough arms for the Blue Jays to try and figure out.
Toronto didn't look afraid of Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez on Friday night, scoring four times against the right-hander before he left with a strained right pectoral in the fifth inning. The Blue Jays eventually lost the series opener, 5-4.
"You know you've got your work cut out," Gibbons said of facing Detroit's rotation. "You've got to match them on the mound if you want to beat them. They may give up a couple runs, but they're not going to give up a lot unless it's a bad day, and that's rare too."
Scherzer is coming off a start against the Yankees in which he allowed two runs over seven innings. New York plugged away for nine hits off him, though, and Scherzer admitted he was not at his best.
"Without my best stuff, I found a way to be able to go deep into a game," Scherzer said. "So there were some things I didn't do quite as well [against the Yankees], but at the end of the day, I was able to get some results, and at least you can hang your hat on that."
Scherzer will hope for considerably greater run support Saturday against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. The rookie will be in for one of the toughest challenges of his young career, facing the dangerous Tigers lineup.
Stroman is coming off his shortest outing, which came against the Astros. He allowed five runs on seven hits over three innings. It was a thudding end to a successful stretch in which Stroman had allowed just one earned run over his previous 21 innings.
Stroman hopes that's not a sign of things to come in the month of August after he posted a 1.71 ERA in July.
"I kind of didn't have anything, everything was kind of up," Stroman said. "I'd get ahead in counts and I'd have trouble putting guys away, where normally I'd be able to get those pitches down in the zone for punchouts. It was a tough one. I'm not discouraged, just looking forward to the next one, kind of put this one in the past."
Tigers: Dirks hits another setback
Just when Andy Dirks seemed to be making progress towards a late-season stint with the Tigers, his rehab from back surgery is on hold once again. This time, it might be a longer delay.
One day after the Tigers transferred Dirks' Minor League rehab assignment from Class A West Michigan to Triple-A Toledo, the team recalled his assignment. His left hamstring strain suffered Wednesday is worse than initially thought, and worse than day to day.
"If it was day to day, we probably would've carried it," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. "It wasn't just a two- or three-day type of hamstring [injury]. It's a little bit more extensive."
Dirks strained the hamstring running in the outfield on Wednesday for West Michigan against Lake County. His rehab assignment originally began exactly a month ago. He played in six games at high Class A Lakeland before being sidelined by lower back soreness, then restarted his assignment at West Michigan a week ago.
Blue Jays: Lind misses rehab game with back tightness
Due to back tightness, Adam Lind missed out on the second game of his rehab assignment Friday.
"We don't think it's a big deal," said Gibbons. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Lind is on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right foot. He went 2-for-2 with two doubles in the first game of the rehab assignment with the GCL Blue Jays.
• Toronto leads the season series, 3-1, over Detroit after Friday night's loss.
• Detroit pitchers had recorded quality starts in seven straight games and 14 of their last 18 starts before Anibal Sanchez's outing Friday.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.