DETROIT (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays figured out the perfect strategy against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
The Blue Jays simply sat back and let the Tigers’ pitching staff beat itself with control problems. Toronto drew 10 walks, including two with the bases loaded, and went on to a 7-2 victory.
The game lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes, ending just before 11 p.m.
Toronto manager John Gibbons didn’t mind the late night if it meant a victory.
“(Shortening games) is the commissioner’s job,” he said. “Did anyone leave?”
The Tigers threw 220 pitches, matching their most in a nine-inning game since needing 224 in a 26-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 9, 2004.
“You can’t walk 10 guys and expect to win a major league game,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “You have to throw strikes.”
Steve Pearce and Jose Bautista homered for the Blue Jays, who won the first game of a 10-day, 10-game road trip.
“You never know what is going to happen coming out of the break,” Gibbons said. “I thought that was pretty crisp.”
Aaron Sanchez (1-2) allowed one unearned run, seven hits and two walks to win for the first time since beating the Boston Red Sox on Oct. 2. He struck out four.
“This was a lot better,” Sanchez said. “I got a lot of weak contact, especially after the first couple innings.”
Because of injuries, Sanchez only made six starts before the All-Star break, going 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA.
“He was really good tonight,” Gibbons said. “He looked like a veteran, and that’s a good sign.”
Verlander (5-7) only allowed three hits, but needed 114 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three runs, two earned, while walking three and striking out five.
“They just did a great job of keeping at-bats alive,” he said. “I don’t remember a single quick at-bat all night.”
The Tigers had runners at second and third in the second inning and at the corners in the third, but Sanchez escaped both times without damage.
Pearce broke the scoreless tie in the fifth, hitting Verlander’s 2-0 fastball over the Tigers’ bullpen in left. Kevin Pillar followed with a line drive down the right-field line that J.D. Martinez dropped for a two-base error.
Pillar took third on Darwin Barney’s groundout and scored on Bautista’s sacrifice fly.
The Tigers put runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom of the inning, and Alex Avila lined sharply to third base. Josh Donaldson threw to first, trying to double off Alex Presley, but the throw got away from Justin Smoak, allowing Jose Iglesias to make it 2-1.
Verlander left with two on and one out in the sixth, with Shane Greene coming out of the bullpen. Pearce’s infield single loaded the bases with two outs, and Pillar fouled off three two-strike pitches before walking to give the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.
“Verlander was good, but we were able to wait him out and get his pitch count up,” Pearce said. “That’s our job.”
Bautista led off the seventh with a homer off Warwick Saupold to make it 4-1.
Blaine Hardy walked three batters in the eighth, including Russell Martin with the bases loaded, giving Toronto a four-run lead. Donaldson followed with a two-run single to put the Blue Jays ahead 7-1.
Andrew Romine homered for the Tigers in the ninth.
Blue Jays: RHP Joe Smith (shoulder) was scheduled to pitch a final rehab game for Triple-A Buffalo. Barring a setback, he will rejoin the Blue Jays in Detroit this weekend.
Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Romine replaced him in the field, with Presley taking over as the leadoff hitter. Kinsler’s status for Saturday is unknown.
Four Tiger relief pitchers needed 106 pitches to get 11 outs, while the four Blue Jays pitchers threw 162 pitches in their nine innings.
“When you are using that many pitches, you are always pitching in bad counts and you keep turning over the lineup,” Ausmus said. “The defense is also getting bored with just standing there.”
A large part of the outfield grass, stretching from one outfield gap to the other, was dead or dying after a Metallica concert earlier this week. The area will have new sod put down next week while the Tigers are on a road trip.
Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano (5-4, 5.56 ERA) will start Saturday in the second game of the weekend series. The 33-year-old is 6-10 with a 5.26 ERA in 27 career appearances against the Tigers, including 20 starts.
Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (9-6, 3.19 ERA) will pitch for the first time since representing the Tigers in his first All-Star Game. Fulmer threw six shutout innings against Toronto in his only appearance against them on June 6, 2016.