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Tigers stay hot, leave Blue Jays in cold

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers can't wait to warm up their bodies. Their potent bats are already crackling.

Detroit raised its major-league leading batting average to .313 by pounding out 16 more hits in an 11-1 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park on Thursday.

Prince Fielder drove in four runs and Torii Hunter knocked in three in damp, 35-degree weather, while Austin Jackson and Jhonny Peralta had three hits apiece.

"They're hot. They're swinging the bat well," Toronto manager John Gibbons said after his team lost two of three in the series. "They took it to us all series. Looks like everybody in the lineup is hitting about .350."

They also got a strong pitching performance from Doug Fister (2-0), who allowed one run as he scattered eight hits in eight innings. The Tigers, who have played in harsh conditions several times this season, now head out for a nine-game West Coast trip. The first stop is Oakland, where the temperature is expected to reach 70 degrees this weekend.

"We're going to be sweating a little bit but it's going to feel good," Fister said. "I know the Bay Area gets a little chilly at night but it will be nothing near what we've had to deal with so far in Minnesota and Detroit. It gives you character and gives us the knowledge that we can go through it and rise above it."

Fister rose above the conditions on Thursday, throwing 73 of his 107 pitches for strikes.

"It's a matter of staying with everything that's normal," he said. "Yeah, it's cold and wet but it's really just a matter of doing what you're trained to do."

The Tigers' batters looked like they were having batting practice against Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson (0-1) and three relievers. The top four hitters in the order combined for seven runs, eight hits and nine RBI. The three batters on the bottom weren't much easier for the opposing pitchers as Peralta, Alex Avila and Omar Infante combined for four runs and seven hits.

"We're tough one through nine," Avila said. "We've got professional guys throughout the lineup. It will be tough for pitchers to get through our lineup every single inning. With the talent we have, we won't have as many nights where we won't hit too well."

Mark DeRosa's sacrifice fly in the second accounted for Toronto's lone run. Johnson didn't get out of the second inning, giving up six runs while retiring just four batters as the Blue Jays dropped to 3-6.

"Nothing's clicked. Nothing's really working together yet," said Gibbons, whose team rallied from a five-run deficit for an 8-6 victory on Wednesday. "Today was ugly. It was tough conditions but Fister hung in there and did a pretty good job."

Victor Martinez had an RBI single in the bottom of the first after Cabrera startled Johnson by stealing third base. Cabrera drove a Johnson pitch off the base of the right-centerfield wall in his next at-bat for a run-scoring triple. It was the first time in his career he had a stolen base and triple in the same game.

"Miggy stealing and getting a triple, we were running around a lot today," Avila said. "We had to. It was pretty cold outside."

Cabrera's triple was preceded by singles by Peralta and Avila, Infante's sacrifice fly and RBI singles from Jackson and Hunter. When Fielder followed Cabrera with a single to left, Johnson's day was over.

Left fielder Andy Dirks helped Fister survive a shaky third inning by throwing out Melky Cabrera at the plate.

Detroit added four runs in the fifth on Hunter's two-run single and Fielder's two-run double.

NOTES: Miguel Cabrera's triple was his first since July 6, 2010 against Baltimore. ... Hunter has seven multi-hit games in nine outings. ... Detroit hasn't committed an error this season, the only American League team without one. ... The Tigers don't have another trip out West after the one that begins Friday. Manager Jim Leyland is looking forward to playing in better weather. "We should not be sitting around, worrying about whether we're going to get the game in or not," he said. "The biggest thing is it gets your rotation going. Ten days out there and we're done." ... Blue Jays infielder Emilio Bonifacio didn't start, but entered when the game got lopsided. Bonifacio has committed four errors playing second base, tying him for the league high. ... Gibbons was the bench coach for Kansas City, the Blue Jays' next opponent, from 2008-11. "They've got some of the better young players in the league and they're probably the best defensive team in the league," he said. "The thing that was holding them back was their starting pitching and they've addressed that this winter, so they're tough." ... Veteran Blue Jays reliever Darren Oliver was hit on the arm by a line drive Wednesday but should be available sometime this weekend.
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