Tigers start early, ride big inning past Blue Jays
By Jason Beck and Gregor Chisholm
DETROIT -- Hours after the Tigers put Miguel Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list, their offense began the coping process with a four-run first inning off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, putting Detroit in command from the outset for an 8-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.
J.D. Martinez, batting cleanup with Cabrera out, fueled the opening-inning rally with a two-run home run to go with Victor Martinez's RBI groundout and James McCann's RBI triple as the Tigers batted around. Dickey (3-9) eventually found enough bite to his knuckler to pitch into the sixth, allowing only a Yoenis Cespedes RBI single after that, but he lost for the third consecutive start. Ian Kinsler's two-run single capped a three-run eighth off Steve Delabar to put the game away.
"It always feels good [to put up offense], regardless if Miguel is in the lineup or not," Kinsler said. "It always feels good to hit any day. It was a good win. It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of activity on the bases. A lot of things happening. Pretty consistent. It was a good day for us offensively."
Kevin Pillar's fifth-inning solo homer was the only run for the Blue Jays off David Price (8-2), who delivered seven innings with seven strikeouts to extend his winning streak against Toronto to seven straight decisions and his record against the Blue Jays to 16-2. Chris Colabello added a two-run homer in the ninth off Jeff Ferrell, who made his Major League debut.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Just Delivering: On Day 1 for Cabrera on the DL, J.D. Martinez provided a suggestion for how the Tigers will try to make up for the lost production, jumping a fluttering first-pitch knuckleball from Dickey and sending it out to left field for a two-run homer. It was Martinez's ninth home run in his last 11 games and his 22nd of the season. More >
Dickey's dud: Dickey's struggles continued well beyond the four-run first inning. He allowed the leadoff man to reach base in five of the six innings he pitched, and that proved costly in the fourth. Josh Wilson led off with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and later scored on a single by Cespedes. Dickey tied a career high with 11 hits allowed, and his ERA is back above five following four consecutive quality starts.
"I just didn't have a real good feel for it today," Dickey said. "It was probably one of the worst knuckleballs I've had all year. I was just trying to play with the speeds and do the best I could to pitch around a bad knuckleball, and that's hard to do." More >
Avila almost a natural at first: With Cabrera out, Alex Avila was first up at first base, making his first start there in the Majors and just his second as a pro. He more than held his own thanks to two unusual plays. After tumbling into the seats down the right-field line for a catch on Russell Martin's popup to end the fourth inning, he used his footwork to block Devon Travis from sliding back into first base on a fifth-inning pickoff from catcher McCann. More >
Pillar of strength: The Blue Jays' lone bright spot on offense against Price came in the fifth inning, when Pillar hit a solo homer to left. It was Pillar's seventh of the season and his third against a former Cy Young Award winner. Pillar also went deep twice off Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer on June 2.
"Unbelievable. That's disrespectful to everybody that has won a Gold Glove." -- Ian Kinsler, joking, when asked if Alex Avila looked like a Gold Glove first baseman
"We're not sure yet what we're going to do, but it's always a possibility around here, you know that." -- Manager John Gibbons, on whether the Blue Jays needed to add a reliever or two from Triple-A Buffalo for Sunday's series finale
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Toronto's starting rotation has an ERA of 4.59, which ranks second worst in the American League. Boston is the only team that has a higher mark after entering play on Saturday with a 4.87 ERA from its starters.
Avila became the fourth Tiger to start a game at first base this season, the most for Detroit since 2010.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a three-game series against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at 1:08 p.m. ET. Estrada recently took a pair of no-hitters into the eighth inning of consecutive starts, but his last outing wasn't nearly as effective. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and surrendered four runs on three hits with four walks.
Tigers:Justin Verlander, still looking for his first win this season, will make his fourth start back from the disabled list in Sunday's series finale. He'll try to keep the Blue Jays' offense quiet, much like Price and Anibal Sanchez did the first two games, but he'll have to command the ball better than his last start, when he walked five Pirates over six innings.