TORONTO — Fans threw hats from all levels of Rogers Centre, and some even reached the field. There was no more Canadian way to celebrate a home-run hat trick by Edwin Encarnacion.
Encarnacion drove in a franchise-record-tying nine runs by hitting three home runs, powering the Toronto Blue Jays to a 15-1 rout of the Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
The righty slugger hit a three-run homer in the first inning, a two-run homer in the sixth and then a grand slam in the seventh. The nine RBIs tied the record set by Roy Howell in 1977, the Blue Jays' first year of existence.
Encarnacion's 27th home run of the season extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games and was more than enough offence by itself. Nos. 28 and 29 were gravy as the Blue Jays reached the 15-run plateau for the second time in eight days.
During the hitting streak, Encarnacion is batting .400 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs. It's the longest streak in the majors this season and four short of Shawn Green's franchise record of 28 set in 1999.
When Encarnacion wasn't destroying Tigers (60-69) pitching, the rest of Toronto's lineup was. The Blue Jays' 18 hits were their second-most this season.
Toronto (73-56) improved its major-league-best run total to 709, 105 more than any other team.
The victory put them two games up on the New York Yankees atop the American League East. The Yankees play Saturday night at Atlanta.
Ben Revere had a team-high four hits and drove in a run, while American League MVP candidate Josh Donaldson drove in two as part of his three-hit day. Russell Martin hit a two-run home run, and Ryan Goins got in on the act with an RBI single.
On the mound, Drew Hutchison (13-2) was masterful in his return to the starting rotation, allowing one run on six hits and striking out seven in seven innings.
The only run Hutchison gave up came after right-fielder Jose Bautista lost a fly ball in the sun. In his first major-league start since Aug. 16 and following a demotion to the minors, Hutchison tossed a gem to lower his earned-run average from 5.06 to 4.87.
With Encarnacion leading the way, the Blue Jays continued to make Hutchison the best supported pitcher in baseball. They've scored almost seven runs a game for the right-hander this season.
This time they did so in some fascinating ways. Beyond Encarnacion's three home runs, the Blue Jays scored a run from second base on a sacrifice fly when former Toronto outfielder Anthony Gose forgot how many outs there were in the fourth inning.
Notes — The crowd of 46,444 was the Blue Jays' sixth straight sellout and 12th of the season. ... Revere's four hits tied a season high. ... Tigers starter Buck Farmer (0-3) got the loss by allowing five earned runs in four innings.
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