TORONTO (AP) -- These are difficult times for the banged-up Detroit Tigers.
David Eckstein hit a three-run homer, supplying some of the power Toronto might miss without Frank Thomas, and the Blue Jays beat the Tigers 5-3 on Sunday."We're 6-13. That's tough," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "At the same time, this is a good club and I expect it to roll at some point. When that is, I have no idea."Detroit has dropped two straight after winning four of five.Leyland, who ripped his team after an 11-0 loss to the White Sox last Sunday dropped Detroit to 2-10, said he's seen some improvement in the past seven days but expects to see even more."We haven't had the right combination to get over the hump," Leyland said. "Certainly, it's been better but you've got to maintain that killer instinct all the time. I'd like to see us do a bit more of that."Toronto released Thomas before the game, one day after the slumping designated hitter became angry for being taken out of the lineup. The move leaves the Blue Jays on the hook for $7,081,967, the remainder of his $8 million salary this year in the $18.12 million, two-year contract the 39-year-old Thomas signed in November 2006."It's behind us now," manager John Gibbons said. "We don't have to deal with it anymore. I know he was frustrated but we move on."Thomas' replacement, Rod Barajas, went 0-for-3. Fans briefly chanted "We want Frank" when Barajas was up in the seventh.After the game, Toronto recalled catcher Robinzon Diaz from Triple-A Syracuse to take Thomas' spot on the roster.Tigers starter Nate Robertson (0-2) remained winless and his ERA climbed to 7.48 through four starts."We just need to graduate from this little funk," Robertson said. "That's what has to happen. We're better than this. Speaking for myself, I'm better than this. We've got to turn the page here."Detroit was without designated hitter Gary Sheffield (sore shoulder) and second baseman Placido Polanco (stiff back). Polanco has returned to Detroit to be examined by a team physician and his status for Monday's series finale is unknown.Leyland said Sheffield will not play Monday. Sheffield, who had offseason surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder, said he plans to visit a doctor once the team returns to Detroit.A downcast Carlos Guillen, who finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, said the absences are making life difficult for the highly touted Tigers."It's tough when you lose," Guillen said. "It's tough when you don't find a way to win a ballgame. It's tough when you don't hit with guys in scoring position. We've got to make an adjustment."A.J. Burnett (2-1) issued a season-high six walks in five innings but still managed to win for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and four hits.Robertson gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out five."I felt great, my command was good," Robertson said. "That's what makes it so frustrating."Toronto won for the first time in five tries against a left-handed starter.Clete Thomas' two-run single gave Detroit a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning but Toronto scored four times in the bottom half to take the lead for good. Eckstein followed John McDonald's RBI single with a drive to left for his first homer of the season."I haven't really pulled a pitch effectively all year," Eckstein said. "I was just trying to make sure I was getting my swing down to where I'm staying on pitches. Fortunately enough I was able to stay on it."Miguel Cabrera doubled home Magglio Ordonez in the fifth, but the Tigers couldn't score against Toronto's bullpen. Jesse Carlson worked 1 1/3 innings, Shawn Camp got five outs and Jeremy Accardo closed it out in the ninth for his fourth save."Toronto has got a whole slew of good arms," Leyland said. "They're deep in their pitching, very, very deep. It's very impressive."Burnett walked the bases loaded in the third but escaped when Ordonez grounded out to end the inning. Burnett had walked just six in his four previous starts this season."He's a guy that can sometimes walk himself into trouble," Leyland said. "But guys like that with great stuff are capable of getting out of it and that's what happened."
Toronto assigned 3B Scott Rolen (broken finger) to Class-A Dunedin to begin a rehabilitation assignment. Rolen, who fractured the middle finger on his right hand during a fielding drill in spring training, will be re-evaluated after playing three games.