The Blue Jays fell behind by two runs before they came up to the plate and never recovered, losing, 11-1, to the Tigers in front of 35,978 fans at Rogers Centre.
"We were bound to cool off, that's just the way it is," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But if you're legitimate, you have to win some tough games against some pretty good opponents."
Thursday's contest marked the Blue Jays' eighth loss in their last 11 games. Toronto has taken only one game from each of its three series since the hot streak ended.
It's a stretch that has essentially undone everything the Blue Jays gained with their winning streak, as they once again sit 11 games back of the American League East-leading Red Sox.
"Well, it definitely hasn't helped," Gibbons said of his club's recent woes. "That [winning streak] feels like a long time ago."
With a big crowd on hand, the Blue Jays were behind before many of them had even reached their seats. The Tigers slapped together two hits and a run on the first three pitches from Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers, putting the club in a very quick hole.
Prince Fielder then added to the lead with a sharp single to center, doubling the Tigers lead to two.
"Sometimes you come into the game ... you know you're going to have a bad day," Rogers said. "In the bullpen, I knew my sinker wasn't working too much today and I tried to use it in the game, tried to bring it back, but they stayed normal."
It was a rough outing for the Rogers, his second over his last three starts, raising his ERA to 3.84 on the season.
A big reason for the Blue Jays' troubles stems directly from the starting pitching staff and its early-inning woes. Blue Jays starters have given up 19 runs, 14 earned, in 11 2/3 innings over the last three games, including 12 runs in the first two innings.
"It does start on the mound, in the starting rotation," Gibbons said. "We've been getting beat up a little bit there."
Thursday's performance was the third straight outing in which the Toronto starters have allowed six or more runs, as Detroit added two runs in the third inning and three in the sixth against Rogers before he departed after five-plus frames on the mound.
Rogers' final line read seven earned runs on 11 hits and two walks over five-plus innings. The right-hander struck out four batters.
"If the sinker's not there, sometimes it flattens out a little bit, and the ball's up, it's going to get hurt," catcher J.P. Arencibia said, who went 1-for-3. "Against a team like this, if you're behind in the count ... [and] you're leaving balls up, they are going to hurt you."
On this night, all the damage the Tigers would need came in that first inning -- Detroit starter Justin Verlander handled the rest in his first start here since pitching a no-hitter in 2011.
Admittedly, Verlander hasn't been at his best all season, and despite holding the Blue Jays in check with seven scoreless innings on three hits, two walks, and five strikeouts, he still thinks there's more to offer.
"Definitely not my best," Verlander said of his stuff. "You guys have seen my best. It's much better."
On Thursday, however, it didn't matter much to the Blue Jays.
"Tonight, we didn't play good baseball, plain and simple," Gibbons said.
The loss marked the Blue Jays' third in a row, putting the club three games below .500 for the first time since it won 11 straight.
"A lot of times it's not who you're playing, it's when you're playing them," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They didn't have [Edwin] Encarnacion for most of the series. Melky Cabrera's on the DL, banged up a little bit. I'm very impressed with their lineup. They keep bringing really good arms out of the bullpen. I look for them to have a big second half. It's a good team. They're going to be really good in the second half. We just caught them at the right time."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com.