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Lind knocks in six as Blue Jays open 2009 with 12-5 thumping of Tigers

If spring training is about renewal and hope, then opening day is the first opportunity for teams to give their fans reason to embrace that hope and believe.

TORONTO - If spring training is about renewal and hope, then opening day is the first opportunity for teams to give their fans reason to embrace that hope and believe.

Boy did the Toronto Blue Jays provide some reason for optimism Monday night. Youngsters Adam Lind and Travis Snider paced a revitalized offence, Roy Halladay was his usual outstanding self and a near sellout crowd of 48,027 relished every moment of a 12-5 thumping of the Detroit Tigers.

Given the question marks that follow Halladay (1-0) in the rotation, it certainly won't be like this every time out. Not even close, actually. But maybe, just maybe, the Blue Jays will be able to hit enough to mask some of the deficiencies in their starting staff.

Lind, the 25-year-old looking to finally stick in the bigs, hit a two-run single in the first, a three-run shot in the fourth and an RBI single in the eighth to set a team record with six opening day RBIs. Snider, the 2006 first rounder already nicknamed "The Franchise," doubled in the second and ripped a solo blast in the fourth.

Together, they may provide some left-handed balance and production to a lineup that desperately needs it.

Alex Rios, with two hits and three runs scored, and Vernon Wells, with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI, also had big nights at the heart of the order while Scott Rolen and Lyle Overbay also looked good at the plate.

They all clubbed Justin Verlander (0-1), who matched a career-high by giving up eight runs on eight hits 3 2-3 innings, giving Halladay all the cushion he'd need. The Blue Jays led 9-1 through four and both teams were counting outs from there.

The only down note came during the eighth, when fans threw two baseballs on the field, prompting the umpires to pull the teams off the field. A delay of nine minutes followed before the PA announcer, with interim Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston standing over his shoulder, told the crowd a forfeiture would follow if they didn't stop.

Play resumed and the game concluded without further incident.

The otherwise positive start for the Blue Jays came under the closed Rogers Centre roof as a messy combination of rain, sleet and snow fell outside. As fans dried their soggy feet in the stands, video highlight packs featuring historic baseball moments in Canada and great moments of Blue Jays past put them in the mood for baseball.

The Tigers were booed during pre-game introductions while manager Cito Gaston and Halladay received the loudest ovations among the Blue Jays.

And when the task at hand began, the Blue Jays offence looked uncharacteristically sharp during a four-run first, pouncing on Verlander and grinding him out for 35 pitches. Rios started things by working a two-out walk and Vernon Wells followed with a double into the left-field corner to put runners on second and third.

Up came Lind, in a situation Blue Jays hitters routinely failed in last season, and he dropped a soft liner into right to plate two. Scott Rolen took a stray curveball off the left arm before Lyle Overbay, turning on a fastball the way he did back in 2006, spanked an 0-1 offering to the gap in left-centre to make it 4-0.

After Curtis Granderson's solo shot in the fourth cut into the lead, the Blue Jays responded with a five spot that sealed the deal in the bottom of the frame.

Snider's one-out solo blast restored the four-run margin, Aaron Hill's sacrifice fly after a Marco Scutaro triple made it 6-1 and Lind proceeded to bring Rios and Wells home a second time with his blast to centre.

Halladay cruised from there until the seventh, when the Tigers put up a too-little, too-late four-spot on an RBI double by Carlos Guillen, a run-scoring single by Gerald Laird and Brandon Inge's two-run shot to make it 9-5.

But Halladay closed the door after that - the Blue Jays added three more in the eighth on an Adam Everett error, Lind's RBI single and Rolen's sacrifice fly - and the bullpen wrapped things up from there.

The only real nervous moment came in the fourth, when Miguel Cabrera's comebacker hit Halladay's right foot for a single. No damage was done and trainer George Poulis didn't even bother coming out to check on the right-hander.

Notes: Matt Clement, the right-hander signed to a minor-league contract over the winter, told the Blue Jays he would retire rather than report to triple-A Las Vegas in attempt to revive his career. ... Hill played his first big-league game since suffering a concussion in a collision with Dave Eckstein last May 29. He made a great play ranging far to his right on a Miguel Cabrera grounder in the second for the out. ... The Four Tenors sang the national anthems. ... Blue Jays jerseys this season feature a Maple Leaf on the right sleeve and a banner with Ted, in honour of the late team owner Ted Rogers, on the left. ... Lind also tied an opening day team record with four hits.

 
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