DETROIT (AP) — John Gibbons was all smiles in the visiting manager’s office after his Toronto Blue Jays wrapped up yet another sweep of one of the American League’s most successful teams.
“We’re feeling good right now,” Gibbons said. “We’re confident, and we’re playing good baseball. We’re rolling.”
Juan Francisco and Brett Lawrie hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning off Justin Verlander, and the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 7-3 victory Thursday. The AL East-leading Blue Jays have won 19 of 23, including sweeps of defending champion Boston, AL West-leading Oakland and AL Central-leading Detroit.
“It’s a great atmosphere — we’ve got a lot of positivity in here,” Lawrie said. “Everyone likes to have fun, and everybody’s comfortable with one another.”
J.A. Happ (5-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings for Toronto. Casey Janssen got the final out for his 10th save in 11 chances. He needed only one pitch to retire Nick Castellanos on a line drive to left with two on.
Melky Cabrera also homered for the Blue Jays.
Verlander (6-5) allowed six runs — five earned — and eight hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out four. Toronto scored three runs each in the fourth and sixth.
“My fastball was great today, but I just missed some off-speed pitches,” Verlander said. “If I execute those four or five pitches, this would have been a fantastic game. I feel like I’m turning the corner with the mechanical adjustments I’ve made. I know the results don’t reflect that, but I felt great out there.”
With the score tied at 3, Adam Lind drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Francisco followed with a homer to right, and Lawrie’s drive to left made it 6-3.
“Against a guy like that, you can’t really be on your heels,” said Lawrie, who did not have an at-bat against Verlander before Thursday. “You’ve got to be ready to go. Worked a couple good at-bats against him today, and ended up putting one in play, and it ended up being big for us.”
It was the 10th homer of the season for both Francisco and Lawrie. Toronto has hit a major league-leading 87. The Blue Jays won despite the absence of slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who missed the game with a back issue.
The Tigers are still in first place, but they should no longer feel too comfortable after dropping 13 of their last 17. The last time Detroit endured a 4-13 stretch spanned the end of the 2010 season and the beginning of 2011, according to STATS. In 2011, of course, the Tigers began a streak of three straight division titles they’re now hoping to extend.
Detroit scored twice in the third and once in the fifth, but the Blue Jays had an answer each time.
Ian Kinsler opened the scoring for Detroit with an RBI triple and scored on Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly. But Jose Bautista led off the fourth with a flyball that Hunter and center fielder Austin Jackson each seemed to expect the other to catch. Hunter ended up trying to make the play at the last second, and the right fielder was charged with a two-base error.
The Blue Jays eventually loaded the bases with one out, and Dioner Navarro hit an RBI single. Erik Kratz followed with a two-run single to put Toronto ahead.
Kinsler tied it in the fifth with an RBI groundout, but Toronto took the lead back for good the following inning.
Cabrera capped the scoring with a solo shot in the ninth, and he has 10 homers on the season as well.
NOTES: Castellanos had three hits. … Bautista extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single. … Detroit hosts the Red Sox on Friday night. The Tigers send LHP Drew Smyly (2-4) to the mound against Boston RHP Rubby De La Rosa (1-0). … Toronto hosts St. Louis. Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman (2-0) takes on Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (6-3).