TORONTO - Jesse Litsch had that sinking feeling Wednesday night.
Litsch made two mistakes on pitches to Miguel Cabrera, and the Detroit slugger sent both of them over the fence as the Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 for their first win of the season. The homers, both on sinking fastballs that Litsch left up, were Cabrera's first of the season, silencing the already-subdued crowd of 12,145 at the Rogers Centre.
"We were kidding him before the game, asking him if he was going to hit one and he hit two," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That doesn't surprise me at all."
Third baseman Brandon Inge also homered for the Tigers, his third in as many games.
The three longballs were plenty for Tigers starter Zach Miner (1-0), who escaped a first-inning game to limit the Jays to six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Miner also relies on a fastball with plenty of sinking action - and his kept Toronto baffled for most of the game.
"He sinks the ball well," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He doesn't really throw that hard but he moves the ball around, throws strikes and he's got a good sinker."
Litsch (0-1) blamed himself for not locating his fastballs well enough against Cabrera and Inge.
"Three pitches, three home runs, self-explanatory," said Litsch, who allowed seven hits and struck out five in six innings. "Cabrera hit two sinkers and Inge hit a cutter so it was all fastballs. They were just up in the zone."
It is the third time in his 49-start career that Litsch has allowed three home runs in a game, the last instance coming last June 21 against the Orioles at Baltimore.
"He didn't have good location on his pitches tonight," Gaston said. "You know he struggled a bit. We came back and had a chance to get back in the ball game but we didn't do that either. It's just one of those nights where we have to put it behind us and move on."
The Tigers are already ahead of last year's schedule when they lost their first seven games of the season on the way to a fifth-place finish in the American League Central.
"All the frustration we had last year, you've got that on your mind," Cabrera said. "Right now we're going out there and playing relaxed, playing our baseball."
While both starters struggled in the first inning, it was the Tigers who emerged with a 3-1 lead, as Cabrera followed one-out singles by Placido Polanco and Magglio Ordonez with his first homer of the season.
The Blue Jays opened what appeared to be a promising bottom of the first with doubles by Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill. Alex Rios singled and Vernon Wells walked to load the bases, but Hill was forced out at home on Adam Lind's grounder to third and Rios was thrown out trying to score after tagging up on Scott Rolen's shallow pop out to right-fielder Josh Anderson.
"Anderson made a great throw, what can you say," Gaston said.
"We want to stay aggressive because that's got to be part of our game this year, play aggressive and take the extra base. You might hit that ball out there 10 times and maybe the kid doesn't throw the ball that well. It's just one of those things that happen."
Cabrera hit a solo home run in the fifth off the centre-field windows to put Detroit ahead 4-1.
Inge homered on a 2-2 cutter in the sixth.
Miner left the game in the sixth after shortstop Ramon Santiago's two-out error put runners at first and second. Left-hander Bobby Seay came in to strike out Lyle Overbay, ending the threat.
Notes: Both starters in Thursday's finale of the four-game series will be making their major-league debuts. Left-hander Ricky Romero gets the call for the Blue Jays against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. It will be the first time since major-league baseball's draft began in 1965 that two first-round draft picks made their major-league debuts against each other. Romero was the sixth player taken overall in 2005 and Porcello was the 27th player taken in the 2007 draft. ... The Blue Jays will visit the Cleveland Indians for three games starting Friday afternoon when Scott Richmond starts against Cleveland's Scott Lewis. Roy Halladay (1-0) will start Saturday against left-hander Cliff Lee (0-1) on Saturday and left-hander David Purcey (0-0) will start Sunday against Anthony Reyes.
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