Toronto, ON – For Justin Verlander, pitching on foreign soil has felt just like home over the past few years.
Starting at Toronto's Rogers Centre for the first time since his May 2011 no- hitter, the Detroit hurler spun seven scoreless innings in the Tigers' 11-1 rout of the Blue Jays.
Verlander (9-5) yielded just three singles and two walks while striking out five in a 102-pitch effort, and was supported by a Tigers' lineup that pounded out 16 hits and battered Toronto's Esmil Rogers for seven runs in five-plus innings.
"He threw exceptionally well. He looked like he was in command the whole game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Austin Jackson led the outburst by going 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBI and four runs scored. Torii Hunter knocked in three runs while finishing 2-for-4, Prince Fielder contributed two hits and two RBI and Don Kelly went 3-for-4 and scored three times to help Detroit wrap up this four-game series with three straight wins.
Rogers (3-4) served up 11 of the Tigers' hits in the loss, the Blue Jays' eighth in 11 games since ripping off 11 straight victories from June 11-23. Maicer Izturis had two of Toronto's six hits and singled in the team's lone run in the ninth inning.
"Tonight we didn't play good baseball. It starts on the mound, the starting rotation. We've been getting beat up there. We're also not scoring a ton of runs," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
Verlander was in top form all throughout the contest, and especially early on. The ace right-hander set down the first 11 Toronto hitters until Edwin Encarnacion singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, with the Blue Jays already faced with a 4-0 deficit at that point.
Conversely, Rogers was in a 1-0 hole just three pitches into his outing, as Jackson singled on the first offering of the game and Andy Dirks brought him home with a double into the gap in left center after taking a strike. Dirks went to third on Hunter's groundout before Fielder laced a single up the middle for a two-run edge.
Hunter increased the Tigers' lead to 4-0 by ripping a double into the left- field corner in the third that plated both Jackson and Dirks, who had reached on a single and a walk. Detroit then put the game out of reach with a three- spot three innings later.
Rogers was removed after issuing consecutive singles to Ramon Santiago, Kelly and Jackson that accounted for another run. Hunter delivered a sacrifice fly shortly afterward to make the score 6-0, with Fielder adding an infield single that knocked in Jackson.
The Blue Jays didn't put forth their first scoring threat until Izturis singled with one out in fifth and Rajai Davis followed with a walk, but Verlander retired the next two batters to strand Izturis at third. Toronto also put two on with one gone in the sixth, and again came up empty after Adam Lind bounced into a double play.
Kelly doubled in front of Jackson's shot over the center-field wall off Neil Wagner in the eighth, and the Tigers tacked on two more runs in the ninth on a bases-loaded walk to Dirks and Hunter's sac fly that brought in Kelly.
Reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, bothered by tightness in his lower back, was out of the Tigers' lineup for the first time this season. Second baseman Omar Infante also did not play after bruising his shin following a collision with Toronto's Colby Rasmus in Wednesday's matchup ... Encarnacion returned after missing the first three games of the set with a sore hamstring ... Santiago ended 2-for-5 with two runs scored in place of Infante ... Detroit's Victor Martinez has now hit safely in 11 straight at the Rogers Centre after singling in the fifth inning ... The Tigers open a four-game series at Cleveland on Friday holding a 1 1/2-game lead on the Indians for first place in the AL Central.