Pearce, Bautista homer in win over Tigers

Pearce, Bautista homer in win over Tigers

DETROIT -- Aaron Sanchez looked more like himself Friday night, outdueling Justin Verlander with six strong innings, allowing one unearned run as the Blue Jays opened their second half with a 7-2 win over the Tigers to begin a critical three-game series for both clubs at Comerica Park.

"He looked like the old guy today," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's a good sign."

Sanchez, who returned from the disabled list and gave up seven hits while recording just five outs against Houston last Friday, looked much more comfortable on the mound this time around. The Tigers got on the board thanks to a Josh Donaldson throwing error in the fifth inning.

"My stuff moves so much, you have to be really right with that release point or stuff is going to fall off the dish," Sanchez said. "So for me, it was just to find that release point, find that release point. And then once I got it, I just kind of grabbed it and ran."

Cut4: Squirrel celebrates return of baseball with jog in center

Sanchez's stellar road start

Verlander kept pace through four scoreless innings, but Blue Jays hitters made him work for it, fouling off pitches and running up his pitch count. Steve Pearce's seventh home run of the season led off the fifth. Kevin Pillar reached on a Nicholas Castellanos throwing error and scored on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly later in the inning before Pillar's bases-loaded walk off Shane Greene plated Justin Smoak in the sixth.

Verlander strikes out five

"You can't walk 10 people and expect to win a lot of baseball games," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Tigers pitching.

Outfield grass altered due to concert, rain

Bautista recorded another RBI when he added a home run to lead off the seventh inning vs. Warwick Saupold, his 15th of the season.

Bautista's solo blast in the 7th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Pearcing blow: Though Verlander allowed just two singles and a walk through four innings, he was getting away with falling behind hitters his second trip through the Toronto order. Pearce didn't allow him to do that in the fifth, extending his arms on a fastball over the plate and sending it out to left with an exit velocity of 108.6 mph, according to Statcast™.

Sanchez gets two to end threat: Though the Tigers halved Toronto's lead in the bottom of the fifth, Sanchez denied them a chance at the lead after Donaldson's error. Justin Upton's two-out walk put a second runner on for Miguel Cabrera, but Sanchez induced a rollover swing on a first-pitch fastball in, starting an inning-ending double play.

Sanchez ends inning with DP

"We got hits. We just didn't get the big hits," Ausmus said. "We didn't get the run-scoring hits, or the big two-out hit to drive in a couple runs. That was really the important thing that was missing."

QUOTABLE

"You really never know what's going to happen coming out of a break. Everybody's down four days, both sides. I actually thought it was pretty crisp, other than the length of it." -- Gibbons, on the nine-inning game going three hours and 48 minutes

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

• Verlander threw 114 pitches before leaving with one out in the sixth inning following back-to-back walks. It marks just the second time since April 2014 that he topped 110 pitches in an outing without pitching at least 5 2/3 innings.

• The Blue Jays had 10 walks on Friday, which is the most they've had since July 3, 2016. It was also the first time the Tigers walked double-digit batters since they walked 14 against Toronto in 18 innings on Aug. 10, 2014. In a nine-inning game, Detroit hadn't walked double-digit batters since April 19, 2011, against Seattle.

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Francisco Liriano (5-4, 5.56 ERA) starts for Toronto in Saturday's game against the Tigers, which starts at 6:10 p.m ET. Liriano, who began his career with the Twins, has started 20 games against Detroit, more than he has against any other MLB team.

Tigers: Michael Fulmer (9-6, 3.19), back from his All-Star experience, gets the ball for Detroit after pitching the club to victory last Sunday in Cleveland. He tossed six scoreless innings in his only meeting against the Blue Jays last year.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit and covered the Blue Jays on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.