Blue Jays spank Tigers in season opener

Adam Lind homered and drove in a career-high six runs as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 12-5 in the season opener on Monday night.

Backed by an explosive offence, Toronto Blue Jays ace pitcher Roy Halladay earned the victory in his franchise-record seventh consecutive Opening Day start.

Halladay hurled seven innings as the hometown Blue Jays defeated the Detroit Tigers 12-5 in front of 48,027 fans in the season opener at the Rogers Centre on Monday night.

Toronto, which debuted as an American League expansion entry in 1977, is 17-16 in season openers and 25-8 in home openers.

Players were waved off the diamond for nine minutes in the bottom of the eighth inning, when a couple of balls were thrown from the stands and landed next to Tigers left-fielder Josh Anderson.

Groundskeepers retrieved paper airplanes and beer cups, and Blue Jays interim president Paul Beeston had the public address announcer warn the crowd that the game could be forfeited if it didn't settle down.

"I apologize to those Detroit players," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "A couple of those balls came really close to hitting those kids out there."

"Ice-cold Labatt's and a big win for the Blue Jays," Tiger manager Jim Leyland surmised. "They were having a great time.

"But you cannot endanger any players. Whether they're your players or someone else's, you just cannot do it."

Halladay (1-0), winner of the Cy Young Award as top pitcher in 2003, scattered two hits over six innings before tiring in the seventh inning, when the Tigers scored four times.

The red-headed right-hander was charged with five runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts before being lifted in favour of reliever Jesse Carlson.

"It is really hard, that first day," Halladay said. "To have guys go out there and hit the ball like that, it is nice."

Carlson, Brandon League, Scott Downs and Brian Tallet combined to pitch two innings of scoreless relief and help Halladay improve to 12-2 in 15 career starts versus Detroit.

"Games like that, you just don't want to beat yourself putting guys on base without them swinging the bats," Halladay said. "That is what hurts you.

"It is important to get ahead and stay ahead and be aggressive. I feel like, for the most part, we did that."

Adam Lind led the Blue Jays offensively with four hits, including a home run, and a career-high six runs batted in. 

Travis Snider also homered, Lyle Overbay drove in two runs and Aaron Hill, Scott Rolen and Vernon Wells had the other RBIs.

"We were having a good time in the dugout every time one of us came in after a big hit, giving each other some love," Snider said.

"I have talked to them about scoring more runs this year because, right now, we don't think we have the [starting] staff we had last year," Gaston explained. "They're aware we need to put up some runs every night."

Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge homered in a losing cause for the Tigers.

Carlos Guillen and Gerald Laird had the other RBIs.

Shaky start for Verlander

Detroit starter Justin Verlander lasted just 3 2/3 innings, yielding eight runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. 

Verlander (0-1) struggled from the outset, throwing 35 of his 80 pitches in the first inning.

Verlander retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first, then surrendered four runs on three hits and a walk.

Alex Rios walked and Wells doubled to put runners in scoring position for Lind, who delivered both with a soft single to right field.

Rolen was hit by a pitch and Overbay lined a two-run double to the gap in left-centre to make it 4-0.

Granderson homered into the second deck in right to trim it to 4-1 in the the top of the fourth, but the Blue Jays replied with five runs in the home half of the inning.

Snider homered to the opposite field, and Marco Scutaro tripled and scored on Hill's sacrifice fly to shallow left.

Rios then doubled, Wells walked and Lind launched a three-run homer to centre on a 3-2 pitch from rookie reliever Eddie Bonine to make it 9-1.

But the Tigers pounced on Halladay in the seventh. 

Magglio Ordonez led off the inning with a single and scored on an RBI double from Guillen, who scampered home on Laird's run-scoring single.

That brought Inge to the plate and he homered to right off Halladay to slice it to 9-5.

Toronto loaded the bases on reliever Juan Rincon in the eighth inning, and chalked up a 10th run when shortstop Adam Everett misplayed a grounder off the bat of Rios.

Lind stepped into the batter's box and promptly singled to centre to set a personal high with six RBIs, and Rolen completed the scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly.

With files from the Canadian Press