Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Toronto — Very neighborly were the Tigers in arriving Thursday at Toronto for a weekend series against the not-so-hospitable Blue Jays.

They showed their passports. They were polite at customs. They did their best to make certain everyone in Ontario loved their big league visitors from Detroit.

But, no, the Jays apparently wanted more, with special attention focused on an American League East division title Toronto is attempting to win in tandem with its first playoff appearance in 23 years.

Thank you, Tigers, who helped as best they could Friday in handing the Blue Jays a 5-3 victory, which enabled a hot first-place Toronto team to maintain its division lead and thoroughly please all those noisy, giddy folks who again packed Rogers Centre.

"They should be excited," said Brad Ausmus, the Tigers manager who had to admit life for the Blue Jays is far more upbeat these days than it is for a Tigers team that has lost seven of its last eight games.

Most of the Blue Jays' fun and frolic in 2015 comes courtesy of a lineup that can be sheer torture for well-meaning pitchers. Matt Boyd, for example. Boyd last month was a Toronto farmhand until he came to Detroit as part of the Blue Jays' dowry in acquiring former Tigers ace David Price.

BOX SCORE: Blue Jays 5, Tigers 3

Boyd started Friday and knew what Toronto's cudgel-wielding batters could do. And the Jays did it to the tune of three home runs by three celebrity bashers: Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista.

"I've got to command my fastball better," said Boyd, the 24-year-old left-hander who likes to pour his fastball inside to batters, at least to hitters who aren't quite as punishing as the Jays' hit-men.

It was an inside fastball that Donaldson, Toronto's candidate for American League Most Valuable Player, in the third inning sent on a Cape Canaveral-grade flight three-quarters of the way up Rogers Centre's left-field foul pole to give the Jays a 3-1 lead.

And it was an inside fastball that Bautista drove over the left-center field wall in the fifth to make it, 5-1.

Tulowitzki? He went against the grain in smacking a one-out homer in the third, just ahead of Donaldson's blast. Tulo's bomb came as he took a long, off-balance swing on a Boyd change-up and seemed to genuflect while launching it just past the shallow left-field wall.

"His off-speed pitches were his best tonight, especially his change-up," said Ausmus, who was among those amazed at how Tulowitzki could stretch and extend and hit a home run after he had been so far in front of Boyd's pitch. "He (Boyd) got a lot of swings and misses tonight. And he got a lot of called strikes on his breaking ball."

Boyd was left to lament afterward that his slider never got swerving until the fifth inning. His fastball thus became vulnerable, and that was the big reason his pitching line was unremarkable: six innings, seven hits, five runs, three walks, four strikeouts.

Although the Jays are terrorizing teams galore, the Tigers can play a bit of assault-and-battery baseball themselves and did so in the first inning, thanks to Ian Kinsler's soaring homer to left-center field against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Kinsler is hitting the ball so hard and so steadily this summer it's a wonder the Jays hadn't swung a deal for him ahead of last month's deadline. He is batting .429 in his last 10 games (18-for-42) with three home runs.

He also added a single Friday and is at .306 on the season.

"Kins plays to win," Ausmus said. "It never matters what else is going on in the world. He steps out there at 7:05 and plays to win."

Kinsler isn't in that sense unique. But batters other than Kinsler got only four additional hits against Dickey and the Jays bullpen.

The Tigers, of course, haven't been pitching terribly well since their rotation began to resemble a car-parts yard. And they would have been excused, to some degree, Friday for a far more severe bludgeoning by the scoring-crazed Jays.

But it never quite reached a point of carnage. And because Boyd at least survived, the Tigers had a chance at least to tighten the score.

They pulled to within 5-3 in the seventh when Jose Iglesias coaxed a two-out walk from Dickey and Anthony Gose, who a year ago was working for the Blue Jays, drove a Dickey knuckler over the right-field barrier for a two-run homer.

But that was going to be it. The Jays bullpen throttled Ausmus' troops over their final at-bats in the eighth and ninth and the Jays had a victory that pushed their ever-rising record to 72-56 at the same time it dropped Detroit to 60-68.

The Tigers at least matched Toronto's bullpen down the stretch.

Drew VerHagen, who continually looks as if he is finding a home in the back end, struck out the side in the seventh, despite a pair of walks. Neftali Feliz followed with a scoreless eighth.

The Tigers otherwise weren't scaring the Blue Jays. Not this probable playoff-bound Blue Jays team.

Toronto appreciated the Tigers' courtesy and cooperation Friday. But as tough as the Blue Jays are behaving down the stretch, Detroit shouldn't expect any reciprocity on Saturday or in Sunday's series finale.

Lynn.henning@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/Lynn_Henning

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE