"We scattered a lot of hits, but we couldn't get a lot going offensively," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland, whose team went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. "We couldn't get the big one."
First there was a third-inning double by second baseman Ryan Raburn that went off the top of the wall in left field. Instead of having a two-run homer that would have gotten Detroit's offense off to a nice start, the Tigers had to settle for runners on second and third with nobody out. A strikeout, a groundball and a popout later left the Tigers with just one run to show for their effort.
Then, in the seventh inning, first baseman Carlos Guillen took a pitch from Toronto starter Dustin McGowan and sent it off the wall in straight-away center for another Tigers double. It was only a couple of feet away from being a two-run blast, but instead the Tigers left another inning having scored only one run.
Finally, in the top of the ninth, the Tigers had runners on the corners with two outs against Jays closer B.J. Ryan. The hopes of a comeback were squashed when Raburn struck out looking with the tying run less than 90 feet away.
"I saw McGowan pretty good," said Raburn, who finished the afternoon 1-for-3 with a walk. "But Ryan I hadn't seen before. He hides the ball really well, and it kind of just gets on you. It's tough to pick up."
A few inches here or there and it could have been a different ballgame. McGowan made sure it wasn't. Toronto's 26-year-old right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits while walking just two over seven innings.
"He's got good stuff," Raburn said. "He's got a hard fastball and that good breaking stuff. When he stays around the plate like he did today, he's really tough to beat."
For the Tigers, right-hander Jeremy Bonderman got the start. Unfortunately for Detroit, he wasn't nearly as effective as his Blue Jays counterpart.
Bonderman struggled with his control all afternoon -- walking six batters and requiring 108 pitches to get through five innings.
His most dangerous inning came in the bottom of the second. After allowing a leadoff single to open the frame, Bonderman (1-2) issued three consecutive base-on-balls. He escaped with only a 2-0 deficit by inducing a key groundball double play from Toronto left fielder Joe Inglett.
Bonderman's line could have been worse, but by the time his afternoon was over he had surrendered three runs on five hits.
Afterward, Bonderman said his arm felt great, but he just wasn't able to locate his breaking ball.
"I was kind of all over the place today," Bonderman said. "My breaking ball was flat and didn't have a whole lot of movement on it. I tried to use other pitches, but when you can't throw your bread-and-butter pitch for a strike it makes it hard.
"I felt like I got better as the game went on, but even then I didn't look very good. I was average at best."
After having recorded comeback victories three times this week, Detroit's offense looked poised for yet another rally throughout the game. But it never materialized.
Scoring just two runs was a sharp reversal of fortune for the Tigers, who had averaged 7.8 runs over their past five contests.
As frustrating as the loss may have been, Leyland knows his team has managed to win four of its past six games and with a few lucky bounces that number would have risen to five.
"We had a couple of close calls, but it just wasn't enough today," Leyland said.