DETROIT -- Torii Hunter has always marveled over Miguel Cabrera's skills. Now that he's hitting in front of the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, Hunter has gained an even greater appreciation of Cabrera's batting wizardry.
Cabrera, who achieved baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years last season, had four hits, drove in four runs and scored three times as the Detroit Tigers thumped the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 in the opener of a three-game series at Comerica Park on Tuesday. Cabrera hit the first of what promises to be many homers this season, a three-run blast in the fourth.
The homer, which just cleared the right-field fence, made Cabrera the first player to have 100 at Comerica Park.
"Best right-handed hitter I‘ve ever seen," said Hunter, who signed with the Tigers as a free agent during the offseason. "Roberto Alomar used to be my favorite player but Miguel Cabrera is definitely my favorite hitter. You won‘t ever see anybody hit for the Triple Crown again."
Hunter reached rarified air himself on Tuesday, attaining 2,000 career hits with a three-hit effort. He also has six multi-hit outings in his first seven games as a Tiger, joining Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer and Ty Cobb as the only Detroit players to do that since at least 1916.
"I'm very excited," he said. "To get to 2,000, I just thank God for the opportunity. But if you look back to last year, I've been hitting well since the second half of last season. It hasn't just been seven games, it's been 70 or 80 games. No matter who is hitting behind me, I feel good but having (Cabrera) there always helps."
Anibal Sanchez (1-0) held Toronto to two runs in seven innings and struck out eight. Alex Avila had a solo homer -- his second this season -- Prince Fielder added an RBI double and Matt Tuiasosopo chipped in an RBI single for the Tigers.
Melky Cabrera had three hits, including the 1,000th of his career, and drove in a run for Toronto. Jose Bautista returned to the Blue Jays lineup after missing three games with a right ankle sprain. Serving as the designated hitter, Bautista went hitless in four at-bats.
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow (1-0) gave up five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings to absorb the loss in Toronto's first road game. He allowed single runs in the first and second inning and left after surrendering Cabrera's two-out homer, which gave Detroit a 5-1 lead.
"Miguel hit a home run on a 3-1 breaking pitch," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "Most guys, even really good hitters, if they swing at that pitch it's going to be a ground ball. He's just unbelievable."
The Blue Jays, who entered the season with lofty expectations after a blockbuster trade with Miami and splashy free agent signings, are 2-5.
"There's no doubt our offense is cold right now," manager John Gibbons said. "When you fall behind, it's tough to come back. We've only played seven games but where everything's magnified is that focus is on us. That's what makes it tough."
Detroit left fielder Don Kelly robbed Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia of a second-inning homer, leaping and crashing into the left-field fence in the process.
"Kelly doesn't play a lot but he's in the middle of something good all the time," Gibbons said. "He had a big game for them last year in the postseason. He's done a lot of good things to help them win."
Kelly started because Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez missed the game after suffering a cut on his right thumb that required eight stitches. Andy Dirks, the regular left fielder, served as the DH.
NOTES: Martinez, who missed last season with a knee injury, suffered the gash when he banged his hand on a metal bolt of a bat rack. He's considered day-to-day. ... Hunter is the 14th active player to collect 2,000 hits. He reached the milestone with a sixth-inning single. ... Gibbons is unconcerned about his new ace and last year's National League Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey, who lost his first two starts and has an 8.44 ERA. Dickey makes his next start in Kansas City on Saturday. "On a new team, you want to play well
right out of the gate and live up to your billing and take things by storm," he said. "This game doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, the harder you try, the worse it gets." ... The Blue Jays claimed first baseman Mauro Gomez from Boston on Monday and optioned him to Triple A Buffalo. ... Reliever David Bush was designated for assignment. ... Detroit has gone 15-8 against Toronto since Sept. 13, 2009, second-best among American League teams during that span. ... Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson threw out the first pitch.