The Detroit Tigers opened the Miguel Cabrera disabled list era by pounding knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for four runs in the first inning. They tacked on another run in the fourth and three more in the eighth to cruise to a 8-3 Independence Day victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
David Price (8-2) continued to make his case for a spot on the American League’s All-Star Game pitching staff with seven strong innings. Price scattered eight hits while only allowing one run, a fifth inning home run to Kevin Pillar.
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Ian Kinsler opened the first by reaching base after Dickey (3-9) plunked him with an 0-2 knuckleball. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a double to give the Tigers men on second and third. Victor Martinez worked Dickey for a 12-pitch at-bat before grounding out to first base with Kinsler scoring on the play to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
J.D. Martinez, taking over the clean-up spot in the lineup, continued his torrid pace at the plate. He jumped on the first knuckleball he saw, lining it over the left-center field wall for his 22nd home run of the season to put the Tigers up 3-0.
The Tigers tacked on three insurance runs in the eighth. After loading the bases with one out, Jose Inglesias scored on a wild pitch by Toronto reliever Steve Delabar. Kinsler followed with a single to pick up Josh Wilson and Anthony Gose to make the score 8-1.
Alex Avila made himself at home at first base.
Avila has played parts of three games at first base in his career but today was his first start at the position and he made two key defensive plays.
In the fourth Avila tumbled into the first row of the stands but held on to Russell Martin‘s foul pop fly to end the inning.
In the fifth, following Pillar’s home run, Devon Travis singled to center. Avila took a perfect pick-off throw by McCann and blocked Travis’ hand from the base with his foot while applying the tag.
Jeff Ferrell struggled in his Major League debut.
After Al Alburquerque pitched a scoreless eighth to hold the score at 5-1 the Tigers warmed up Ferrell along with Joakim Soria for the ninth. When they broke open the game with three runs in their half of the eighth Ferrell was brought in to close the game out.
Danny Valencia welcomed him to the show with a single to center. After Martin grounded out, Chris Colabello took him deep to left-center field to make the score 8-3. That was as close as the Blue Jays could get.