By Alejandro Zúñiga and Gregor Chisholm
DETROIT -- The Blue Jays had seen vintage Anibal Sanchez on Friday, vintage David Price on Saturday and, for a stretch Sunday, were facing vintage Justin Verlander. Then they unloaded for six runs in the fifth inning off the right-hander, avoiding a sweep with a 10-5 win at Comerica Park.
Home runs by Jose Bautista and Justin Smoak capped Toronto's scorching fifth, which began when left fielder Danny Valencia worked a leadoff walk despite falling behind in the count, 0-2. Before allowing five hits in that inning, Verlander had retired 12 of the last 13 batters he had faced following third baseman Josh Donaldson's single that scored Jose Reyes in the first.
"I thought he was going to go deep into the game and keep putting zeros up," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "He kind of hit a road block. Quite frankly, I just think it was location. He started center-cutting some pitches that a good offensive team took advantage of."
Toronto added two more runs in the seventh, and that cushion proved to be valuable, because the Tigers didn't go quietly. Detroit chipped away at its deficit, albeit unsuccessfully, with Ian Kinsler's two-run triple in the fifth, J.D. Martinez's solo shot in the sixth, Anthony Gose's homer in the seventh and a two-out rally in the eighth, capped by James McCann's RBI single.
"Ten runs is more than you would expect any offense to overcome," Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Toronto's early offense: The Blue Jays have been falling behind early in games recently, but that wasn't the case in the series finale against Detroit. Reyes led off the game with a bloop double to left field and came around to score on an RBI single up the middle by Donaldson. Prior to Sunday, Toronto had been outscored, 20-5, through the first five innings in its previous three games.
"It's just kind of building that momentum throughout the game," Donaldson said. "When you score a run, the momentum starts and whenever you go out there on defense and put up a zero, now it carries over into the next inning. It just keeps building and building and building."
Must-see J.D.: Martinez continued his red-hot summer with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning that just cleared the wall near the foul pole in right field. It marked his 23rd blast of the season and his 10th in 12 games. The right fielder equaled his career high in homers, which he set last year, and he did so in 139 fewer at-bats.
"He's been very impressive for the last month or so," Ausmus said. "... We'll ride it as long as we can."
Bautista blast: Bautista broke the game wide open in the fifth inning with a two-run shot over the wall in left field. According to Statcast™, Bautista's 17th homer of the season was projected to travel 387 feet and left his bat at 108 mph. It was Bautista's second of the month, and he has now reached base at least once in six consecutive games. Justin Smoak later added a solo shot as the Blue Jays sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs. It was the ninth time this season Toronto scored at least six runs in an inning.
"That has been the key to our season, really," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said about the quick-strike offense.
Rally buster: Detroit clawed back into the game with a run in the sixth and seventh, and it was a hit away from a big eighth inning. With two runners on and two out in a 9-5 game, pinch hitter Rajai Davis worked a 3-1 count. Davis fouled off Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna's next offering, and the righty turned up the heat with a 97-mph fastball to escape the jam.
"We actually had some decent at-bats," Ausmus said. "We hit some balls hard. We got some hits, we scored some runs. Kept the pressure on them."
"There's two ways that you can approach this. You can look at the fifth inning and think negatively, or you can look at the rest of it and think positively. I'm not one to think negatively. I was really pleased with my stuff. … I was seeing reactions from hitters that I haven't seen in a while on my offspeed stuff, and I felt really good about it." -- Verlander, on his start
"Any time you get a win, it's a good time, but obviously today being my birthday, the guys gave me a nice birthday present, put up 10 today. Good day." -- Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, who allowed two runs over five innings on his 32nd birthday
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Verlander reached 2,000 career innings pitched when he recorded the first out of the fifth.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays:: Left-hander Mark Buehrle will make his return to U.S. Cellular Field when the Blue Jays open a four-game series against the White Sox on Monday night. Perhaps more importantly, Chicago ace Chris Sale will be looking to make Major League history with another double-digit strikeout game. Sale has struck out at least 10 batters in eight consecutive starts, which ties the record Pedro Martinez set in 1999.
Tigers:Alfredo Simon (7-5, 3.94 ERA) takes the mound for Detroit on Monday as it begins a three-game series in Seattle. The righty has struggled mightily over his last three starts, allowing 18 runs over 14 2/3 innings. Last Wednesday, he yielded a career-high 15 hits in a loss to the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.