DETROIT — A week into the new year, Miguel Cabrera is already in midseason form.
The reigning AL MVP hit his first homer and drove in four runs, left fielder Don Kelly made a home run-robbing catch and the Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 Tuesday.
Cabrera, coming off his Triple Crown season, had four hits and scored three times.
“He’s the best right-handed hitter I’ve ever seen,” Tigers newcomer Torii Hunter said. “I’ve only been here 15-16 years in the major leagues, but I tell you, this guy’s probably one of the best right-handed hitters I’ve ever seen. (Albert) Pujols is pretty good, saw him the last decade or so, but Cabrera is the best hitter I’ve ever seen.”
Hunter had three hits, including the 2,000th of his career, and Alex Avila homered.
Kelly took away a home run from J.P. Arencibia leading off the second. Kelly ran back to the wall, reached above the fence and caught the ball as he rammed into the padding. Kelly bounced back toward the field and fell onto the warning track, but held on.
“I didn’t know how far it was going to carry,” Kelly said. “He hit it, obviously, pretty well. So just to be able to get back there and catch it was awesome.”
The Blue Jays, who spent millions during the winter to upgrade their roster, fell to 2-5 for their worst start since 2004.
“We’re not relaxing at all. We’re disappointed in the way we’ve played,” said Jose Reyes, in his first season with Toronto.
Anibal Sanchez (1-0) struck out eight in seven innings. He allowed two runs and five hits with one walk.
“He throws his off-speed pitch when he’s behind in the count. Guys who can do that are awful tough,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He did a nice job. He held us in check and went deep into the game for them.”
Drew Smyly and Al Alburquerque combined to pitch the eighth. Joaquin Benoit worked the ninth and gave up Cody Rasmus’ solo home run.
Brandon Morrow (0-1) gave up five runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings.
“Just didn’t make a pitch when I needed to,” Morrow said. “Probably, that was the story of the game.”
Cabrera hit an opposite-field liner just over the fence in right for a three-run homer in the fourth for a 5-1 lead. His 100th career home run at Comerica Park came after Austin Jackson and Hunter singled, and finished Morrow.
“I’ve been on record pretty much for the last five years. To me, he’s pretty much the best opposite-field home run hitter probably in the history of the game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you. I truly believe that. I think he’s got the best opposite-field power of any
player I’ve ever seen. I guess I’ll leave it at that.”
Cabrera added a run-scoring single and Matt Tuiasosopo had an RBI double in the eighth.
Melky Cabrera had three hits and his first RBI for Toronto. He moved past 1,000 career hits.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the first on Prince Fielder’s RBI double off the wall in right-center. He drove in Cabrera, who singled with two outs.
Avila’s second home run of the season made it 2-0 in the second. He homered on Morrow’s first pitch of the inning — it was the first pitch Avila saw since the birth of his first child, Avery Noelle, on Sunday.
The Blue Jays got a run in the third on Emilio Bonifacio’s triple and Reyes’ single. NOTES: Toronto OF Jose Bautista returned as the DH after missing three games because of a twisted right ankle. He was 0 for 4 … Detroit DH Victor Martinez didn’t play because of a cut on the top of his right thumb that required eight stitches. He is day-to-day. … Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson threw out the first pitch, bouncing it about halfway to the plate. … The Blue Jays signed P Miguel Bautista to a minor league contract. … Wednesday’s starters are Rick Porcello (0-1, 5.06 ERA ) for the Tigers against Mark Buehrle (0-0, 10.13) for the Blue Jays.