Blue Jays ride 4 homers to sweep over Tigers
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays hit four home runs for the second day in a row to help complete the series sweep over the Tigers in a 9-2 victory on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin went yard as the Blue Jays won their 21st game of the month, one shy of a franchise record. Over three games, they outscored Detroit, 29-6.
The offensive outburst backed a solid outing from lefty Mark Buehrle, who threw his team-best 18th quality start by allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks over six-plus innings. The loss went to Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon, who was knocked around for six earned runs on six hits over five frames as Detroit dropped its fourth straight game and the ninth in its past 10 contests.
"We ran into the best offensive team in the league," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "In addition, they're swinging the bats extremely well, and we didn't pitch very well. So that's not a good recipe."
The Blue Jays, conversely, won their third in a row and have victories in eight of their past 10. Powered by the long ball, Toronto has hit a Major League-best 184 home runs. With Encarnacion notching his 30th of the year, the Blue Jays have three players with 30-plus homers for the third time in club history.
"You talk about players having confidence, the team having confidence, everybody," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The coaching staff, and you see it on the field with attendance. Fans got to have confidence now too."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Encarnacion's streak reaches 25 games: A day after he hit three home runs and cashed in nine RBIs, Encarnacion extended his Major League-best hitting streak to 25 games with a solo shot in the first inning. That matches the fourth-longest streak in club history. It's also the longest such streak in the American League since Dustin Pedroia's in 2011. More >
Castellanos still swinging: The Tigers didn't do much against Buehrle, but Nick Castellanos ended his robust August on a high note with a three-hit, two-double game. After Rajai Davis doubled and scored in the sixth inning, Castellanos nearly slugged Detroit back into the game with a drive to the wall in left-center field. Castellanos settled for a double after an outstanding effort from center fielder Pillar, moving Victor Martinez into position to score on James McCann's ensuing groundout. Castellanos finished the month batting .286 (26-for-91) with six doubles, five home runs and 15 RBIs. More >
"The beginning part of this year was probably the biggest learning curve that I've had in baseball," Castellanos said. "You show up, no one really knows you, then they figure you out, they adjust to you and then you have to adjust back. And I feel like I'm making strides in the right direction of adjusting back."
Heavy hitters: The Blue Jays went yard twice in the first inning and four times in the first four frames. Donaldson and Encarnacion hit first-inning solo shots before Pillar went deep in the second. Martin's two-run shot in the fourth gave Toronto four homers in a game for the sixth time this season.
"It's a special offense, but aside from the home runs, I think we just have good hitters on this team. And a lot of times you see a middle-of-the-order guy take what the pitcher gives them," Pillar said. "[Encarnacion] goes the other way to hit a home run. Yesterday, Donaldson hit a couple of balls the other way; to me, that's the underrated part of this team. Everyone talks about the power we have, but we just have good hitters."
Plunked by an eephus: Five days after Simon gave up three run-scoring wild pitches, he was wild again, but his weakness Sunday came on pitches he missed up in the zone that the Blue Jays hit out of the park. Simon received a warning for throwing up and in on Troy Tulowitzki after Encarnacion's homer, but he remained in the game after hitting Encarnacion in the fifth because it was on a 47-mph eephus pitch. More >
"You have 33 starts during the course of a year. You're gonna have games where you feel great and games where you feel [bad]. So just the last couple of starts I haven't felt the greatest, but I'll go out there and grind it out." -- Buehrle, on the challenges of pitching as a long season wears on
"Whatever you're asking, it's a concern." -- Ausmus, in mid-question from a reporter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Encarnacion's 35 RBIs in August are the most by any player in any month since Tulowitzki in September-October of 2010 (40). Since '00, only two players have had more RBIs in August than Encarnacion: Ryan Howard had 41 in '06 and Sammy Sosa had 36 in '01.
Toronto outscored Detroit by 23 runs for the series, the largest difference for the Tigers in a three-game set since April 9-11, 2001. The Twins welcomed them to Metrodome and outscored them, 31-8.
Tigers: After an off-day Monday, Detroit begins September in Kansas City for the start of a three-game series against the Royals. Justin Verlander will take the mound for Tuesday's series opener at 8:10 p.m. ET for the first time since his no-hit bid into the ninth inning last week. Johnny Cueto will start for Kansas City.
Blue Jays: David Price will take the mound as the Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Indians at Rogers Centre on Monday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Price is a 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA (eight earned runs over 36 1/3 innings) in five starts since joining Toronto. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his past 18 outings.
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