Memories of his last outing in Toronto might provide some fuel for Justin Verlander to end his current drought.
Pitching at Rogers Centre for the first time since throwing his most recent no-hitter there, Verlander tries to avoid matching a career high with his fifth straight winless start Thursday night in the Detroit Tigers ' finale of a contentious four-game set with the Blue Jays.
Detroit's lineup will be missing superstar Miguel Cabrera , who is being held out with a sore back. The AL's reigning Triple Crown winner had been bothered by back soreness for the past two days, leaving in the ninth inning of each game.
As for Verlander (8-5, 3.77 ERA), he had a 4.85 ERA but received an average 11.08 runs of support to win four straight starts May 22-June 7. In four outings since, his teammates have scored nine runs with the right-hander on the mound while he's gone 0-1 with a 3.96 ERA.
He went winless in five starts Aug. 27-Sept. 20, 2008, for Detroit (45-38).
Verlander gave up three runs and nine hits in eight innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Though he could not hold an early 3-0 lead, manager Jim Leyland was pleased with the performance.
"I thought that was the best that he's thrown in a long time," Leyland told the Tigers' official website.
He threw exceptionally well at Toronto on May 7, 2011, when he struck out four and walked one while facing the minimum in a 9-0 victory. It came less than four years after Verlander no-hit Milwaukee on June 12, 2007.
Verlander is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts versus Toronto after he went 0-2 with an 11.40 ERA in his first three.
He'll again have a tough act to follow after Max Scherzer pitched into the seventh to become the first pitcher in 27 years to go 13-0 after Detroit's 6-2 win Wednesday. Victor Martinez and Alex Avila each homered as the Tigers won their second straight since losing six of seven.
Toronto (41-43) has allowed an average of 4.6 runs while going 3-7 since it gave up 2.5 during an 11-game winning streak. The Blue Jays had nine hits but stranded eight runners and committed three errors Wednesday.
They last dropped a home set May 3-5 to Seattle.
It remains to be seen if anything stems from Wednesday's bench-clearing incident that followed Detroit's Torii Hunter taking exception to being hit by Todd Redmond in the sixth inning. No punches were thrown.
Rasmus felt there was nothing wrong with the slide."I go in hard every time," he said. "My intention is never to hurt anybody or nothing like that."
The Blue Jays hope to get back on track behind Esmil Rogers (3-3, 3.12), who is 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts. He allowed six hits and struck out six over six scoreless innings but did not factor in the decision of a 6-2 win at Boston on Saturday.
"That's what he's capable of," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "He's got the great arm, and he's got the good breaking pitches, too.
The right-hander will make his first start versus Detroit, but is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in six relief appearances.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista is 11 for 21 in six games since he hit .135 in his previous 14. He's 3 for 10 with two doubles and a homer versus Verlander.
Teammate Edwin Encarnacion could miss a fourth straight contest with a hamstring injury.
Martinez is batting .372 with two homers and 10 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak at Toronto.
|July 03, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin|
|June 20, 2013||Matt Tuiasosopo||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
|June 20, 2013||Matt Tuiasosopo||Day-to-Day||Rib cage strain|
|June 17, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Left forearm contusion|
|June 17, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Left forearm contusion|
|June 16, 2013||Anibal Sanchez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 27, 2013||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|June 02, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow|
|June 01, 2013||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Left ankle sprain|
TORONTO (AP) -- Justin Verlander didn't deliver another no-hitter. Still, he was encouraged about some minor fixes to his mechanics.
Verlander pitched seven shutout innings, Austin Jackson hit a two-run homer and the Detroit Tigers routed the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 11-1 Thursday night.
Verlander (9-5) allowed three hits, all singles, while winning for the first time since June 7 at Cleveland.
"He threw exceptionally well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He looked like he was in command the whole game."
It was Verlander's first start in Toronto since he pitched his second career no-hitter on May 7, 2011. He acknowledged thinking back to that game as he set down the first 11 batters, but his no-hit hopes ended with Edwin Encarnacion 's two-out single in the fourth.
"That was an impressive outing for him," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "I definitely think he figured some things out."
Verlander started for the second time since tweaking his shoulder angle, a flaw identified by pitching coach Jeff Jones .
"I feel like Jeff and I have identified what was kind of the kink in the chain," Verlander said. "It's just a matter making that feel comfortable, making my delivery feel comfortable the right way."
Jackson went 4 for 5 with a walk and scored four times as the Tigers pounded out 16 hits while playing without achy slugger Miguel Cabrera .
"He's the table setter, he's the engine that makes this team go," Hunter said of Jackson. "I definitely think you're talking about one of the best center fielders in the game, offensively and defensively. I'm impressed."
Hunter had three RBIs and Prince Fielder drove in a pair of runs as the Tigers won for the ninth time in 11 meetings with Toronto.
Phil Coke pitched the eighth and Darin Downs yielded an RBI single to Maicer Izturis in the ninth.
The Blue Jays lost for the eighth time in 11 games since matching a franchise record with an 11-game winning streak.
"That feels like a long time ago," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Cabrera was held out of the lineup with a sore back. It was the first day off this season for Cabrera, the reigning AL Triple Crown winner who leads the major leagues with a .364 batting average. He also has 26 homers and a major league-leading 85 RBIs.
"He's the best hitter on the planet," Hunter said. "You want him in the lineup."
Cabrera has been bothered by back soreness for the past two days, leaving in the ninth inning each game. Thursday marked Detroit's seventh straight game on artificial turf.
Also out for Detroit was second baseman Omar Infante . He was knocked out in the fourth inning Wednesday with a bruised left shin after a hard slide at second base by Toronto's Colby Rasmus .
"He's better than he was yesterday but he's sore," said Leyland, adding that Infante is day-to-day.
Ramon Santiago started at second and Don Kelly was at third.
The Tigers jumped all over Esmil Rogers in the first inning. Jackson singled on the first pitch of the game and scored two pitches later on a double by Andy Dirks . One out later, Fielder drove in Dirks with an RBI single.
Detroit got two more in the third on RBI doubles by Hunter and Jhonny Peralta , and then chased Rogers (3-4) in a three-run sixth.
Neil Wagner came on after Rogers gave up three straight hits to start the inning, including an RBI single by Jackson. Hunter hit a sacrifice fly and Fielder drove in a run with an infield single.
Rogers allowed season worsts of seven runs and 11 hits. He walked two and struck out four.
Toronto starters have allowed at least six runs in each of the past three games.
Jackson connected against Wagner in the eighth, hitting a drive to center for his fifth homer.
NOTES: Encarnacion returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sore left hamstring. ... Toronto SS Jose Reyes left after eight innings. ... Verlander had a career-worst five straight winless starts in 2008. ... Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie (left ankle) played his first rehab game with Class-A Lansing. He went 0 for 3 before leaving after six innings. ... The Tigers optioned OF Avisail Garcia to Triple-A Toledo and will activate OF Matt Tuiasosopo (left ribcage strain) off the DL Friday.