DETROIT -- The Toronto bats showed signs of life Wednesday as the Blue Jays totaled nine hits to avoid a three-game sweep with a 7-2 win at Comerica Park. The Tigers had outscored the Blue Jays, 14-2, in the first two games of the series, but it was a role reversal in the series finale as Detroit's five-game winning streak came to an end.
R.A. Dickey got the win with the support of six extra-base hits by the Toronto offense while he was in the game, including home runs by Justin Smoak and Josh Donaldson, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and finished a double shy of a cycle. Dickey pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed just a two-run shot to Nick Castellanos in the first.
"Our offense is going to be there, I don't worry about it too much," said Donaldson "The last two days, it has kind of been one of those things where it didn't work for us.
"Maybe they executed pitches, maybe we didn't execute the way we wanted to. The fact of the matter is, we feel like we have a chance to go out there and put up runs every day, and today we did against a really good starting pitcher."
Jordan Zimmermann got roughed up in his shortest outing of the season, making it through just 4 2/3 innings while allowing seven runs. He was handed his first loss since May 11, allowing multiple home runs for the second time this year. It was his second start since returning from a groin injury. He said he feels fine physically, but just wishes he could have a few pitches back.
"I made some pitches, but I also made some pitches that were over the middle," Zimmermann said. "This is a team that takes some big swings, and if you're going to leave stuff over the middle, you're going to get hurt. A couple home runs. Quite honestly, I was pretty bad today. I'll just move on and be ready to go in five days."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bringer of Rain: With the game tied at 2 in the third, Donaldson gave the Blue Jays a big spark with a three-run shot to left. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's 14th of the season was projected to travel 373 feet and left his bat at 99 mph. Donaldson also singled in the first and tripled in the fifth. More >
"He's good, he's the MVP for a reason," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He had been scuffling a little bit, so that was a big day for him and for us. … He's one of the elite players in baseball."
Zimmermann loses batters late: Of Zimmermann's eight hits he gave up, his first six came in two-strike counts, including home runs in the first and third. He walked Josh Thole to lead off the third, then allowed a double off the wall to Jose Bautista before Donaldson's blast. More >
"All pitchers have a few clunkers throughout the year, and you just try to limit those," Zimmermann said. "I actually felt better today than I've felt all year, so I'm going to take that out of this, and move forward."
Putting it away: Toronto had a three-run lead going into the fifth but then quickly put the game away and chased Zimmermann. Donaldson hit a one-out triple, Edwin Encarnacion walked and then Kevin Pillar came through with a triple of his own. Pillar's shot to the gap in right-center field scored a pair of runs, and he was the last batter Zimmermann would face in the game. It was the first time the Blue Jays had two triples in the same inning since July 27, 2012, when Brett Lawrie and Omar Vizquel had them against Detroit.
"It didn't look like he was off, we just swung the bats really well today," Gibbons said of Zimmermann. "We saw him last year and he shut us out, 2-0. Today we really swung the bats."
Castellanos ties it early, Tigers' bats cool off: After the Blue Jays had taken the lead in the top of the first, the Tigers answered right back via a Castellanos two-run shot to left field. Detroit had six hits in the first three innings, but collected just three throughout the rest of the game.
"It's a difficult pitch to hit, especially because no two balls are going to do the same thing," Castellanos said of Dickey's knuckleball. "For me anyway, it's almost like you've just got to go with hacking. You can't really have too much of a fine or mechanically correct swing, it's just, 'Go hit it.'"
"He came by, and it was actually pretty funny. He goes, 'Your eyes weren't even open when you caught that ball.' I told him, 'You can't tell because I'm wearing sunglasses.' It was a ball that was hit pretty hard and I was able to somehow come up with it and make the play." -- Donaldson, on taking a hit away with a diving play on Miguel Cabrera in the third
"Let's put it this way, I think my best pitch of the day was a pickoff to first base. It was probably as big of a grind as I've had in years. I was pulling on the reservoir of experience I've had over the last 10 years just to try and manage the game in some way." -- Dickey, on finding success with a knuckleball that was not working vs. Detroit
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Donaldson was a double shy of the cycle, which is something that has been accomplished by two Blue Jays players in franchise history. Third baseman Kelly Gruber was the first one to do it, on April 16, 1989, and infielder Jeff Frye also did it on Aug. 17, 2001.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open a four-game series against the Orioles on Thursday at Rogers Centre. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET, with right-hander Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39 ERA) getting the call for Baltimore. Stroman will be attempting to turn his season around after allowing at least six runs in three of his last four starts.
Tigers:Mike Pelfrey (1-5, 4.76 ERA) gets the ball at Yankee Stadium on Friday when the Tigers begin a 10-game road trip. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Pelfrey is coming off his first win of the season, also his first with the Tigers. Pelfrey said he is still aiming to go deeper into his starts.