SPORTS

Jackson scores four runs and Verlander dominant as Tigers crush Blue Jays 11-1

07/04/2013 10:18 EDT | Updated 09/03/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Detroit's Austin Jackson lined the first pitch from Toronto starter Esmil Rogers into right-centre field for a leadoff single on Thursday night.

It was all downhill from there for the Blue Jays.

Jackson hit a two-run homer and scored four runs while Tigers starter Justin Verlander threw seven shutout innings as Detroit crushed Toronto 11-1 in front of 35,978 fans at Rogers Centre.

Verlander (9-5) allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out five. Jackson had four of Detroit's 16 hits and Don Kelly chipped in with three runs of his own.

Maicer Izturis hit a two-out single in the ninth inning to bring Josh Thole home with Toronto's only run. The Blue Jays managed just six hits on the night.

"We didn't play good baseball," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "Plain and simple."

Toronto (41-44) fell three games under the .500 mark and deeper into the American League East basement. Detroit (46-38) won the last three games of the four-game set to hand the Blue Jays their first home series loss in over two months.

"A lot of times it's not who you're playing, it's when you're playing them," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "They didn't have (Edwin) Encarnacion for most of the series, Melky Cabrera is on the DL and banged up a little bit. I'm very impressed with their bullpen, they keep bringing really good arms out of the bullpen.

"I look for them to have a big second half. They're a good team. (Jose) Reyes hasn't been back too long. They're going to be really good in the second half. We just got them at the right time."

The Blue Jays have dropped eight of 11 since going on an 11-game winning streak through mid-June.

"We were on that nice little streak and then ran into a few buzzsaws," Gibbons said. "Tonight we just didn't have anything. It just wasn't a good ball game. We fell behind, Rogers got hit around pretty good and then Verlander, he's not going to give you much.

"Even when he's not on, he's not going to give you much."

Verlander was certainly on for this one, his first appearance at Rogers Centre since tossing a no-hitter on May 7, 2011.

The veteran right-hander breezed through the Toronto lineup over the first half of the game. He was perfect until giving up a two-out single to Encarnacion in the fourth inning.

"Verlander was just locked in and when a guy's locked in, you don't play around," said Tigers right-fielder Torii Hunter.

With the win, the Central Division-leading Tigers moved 1 1/2 games up on the Cleveland Indians, who dropped a 10-7 decision to the Kansas City Royals.

"They swing, they swing pretty good over there," Gibbons said. "Going in you figure (slugger Miguel) Cabrera's not in the lineup, you kind of like to see that. But it didn't matter tonight."

In the first, Andy Dirks hit an RBI double off Rogers (3-4) and moved to third on a Hunter groundout. Dirks scored on a single by cleanup hitter Prince Fielder.

The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the third inning.

Jackson got things started again with a single and Dirks followed with a walk. Jackson came across on a double by Hunter and Dirks moved to third.

After a Fielder strikeout, Rogers made a nice play by snagging a comebacker from Victor Martinez and chasing down Dirks in no-man's land for the second out.

Jhonny Peralta doubled to score Hunter and make it a 4-0 game. With two runners in scoring position, Rogers got out of the jam when Alex Avila lined out to centre field.

Izturis legged out an infield hit in the fifth and moved to second when Rajai Davis drew a walk. Izturis took third base on a J.P. Arencibia sacrifice fly but Munenori Kawasaki flied out to end the threat.

Rogers was pulled after giving up three straight singles to open the sixth.

All three runners came around to score. Jackson's single drove in Ramon Santiago, Kelly scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunter and Jackson came across on an infield single by Fielder.

"He was missing off the plate a lot so that put him into a little bit of a jam," Gibbons said. "You can see when he's good, he's flipping his off-speed stuff in there, with a good slider, the occasional curveball and some change-ups.

"That big two-seam fastball has been a big pitch for him lately but he couldn't keep that on the plate."

Rogers allowed 11 hits, seven earned runs and two walks while striking out four. His earned-run average rose from 3.12 to 3.84.

He felt his sinker wasn't effective, possibly due to a slight difference in his delivery.

"It was a little bit slow — my arm," he said. "I watched the video after the game and I saw my arm was a little longer than it is normally. I'm going to get ready for the next (game)."

Reyes led off the bottom of the sixth with a sharp single to right field. Encarnacion drew a one-out walk but Adam Lind hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Tigers piled on with two more runs in the eighth inning. Jackson went deep off reliever Neil Wagner for his fifth home run of the season.

Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen came on for some work in the ninth but was pulled after loading the bases and then issuing a one-out walk to Dirks. Hunter hit a sacrifice fly off Aaron Loup before Fielder was retired on a groundout.

Notes: The Blue Jays will close out their seven-game homestand with a weekend series against the Minnesota Twins. Mark Buehrle (4-5) is expected to start the opener against Minnesota's Kevin Correia (6-5). ... The Tigers will continue their road trip with a four-game series at Cleveland. ... The game took three hours five minutes to play. ... The Blue Jays' last home series loss came May 3-5 when they dropped two of three to the Seattle Mariners.

MORE:cpSports