DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) - Brett Lawrie tends to hit the ball to the opposite field. On Saturday, the highly touted Toronto rookie impressed his manager by pulling one for a key hit.
The three-run shot triggered the Blue Jays' six-run eighth inning against right-hander Brayan Villarreal, and sent Toronto to a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
``One of the most exciting things today was that he turned on the ball like he did,' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ``His swing is a power stroke inside-out, but to show the ability to clear his front hip the way he did today, that was impressive.'
Lawrie said turning on the ball ``comes a lot with not thinking. When you tend to think up there things get rather bad for you.'
The eighth inning included two errors by Tigers second baseman Gustavo Nunez on consecutive plays, allowing two runs to score. It spoiled Tigers starter Jacob Turner's performance - three shutout innings including three strikeouts in his second start against the Blue Jays.
``Last time I faced these guys I didn't have a feel for (the changeup) coming off my fingers,' Turner said. ``Today I felt good with it. It's one of those confidence pitches. Once you start throwing it for strikes I feel I can throw it whenever I need to.'
Kyle Drabek, whose first start for the Blue Jays was delayed five days because of a stiff neck, allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts in two innings.
The 19-year-old Turner has ``a lot of confidence for a young guy and he should,' Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. ``He's got the stuff. He can get big league hitters out. If he keeps improving and doing what he does, he's going to get them out for a long time.'
NOTES: Left fielder Travis Snider had a single in two at_bats in his spring debut after missing Toronto's first seven games with an upper rib injury sustained before training camp while playing golf. Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill, who played in a B game Wednesday, his first spring appearance due to tightness in his right quadriceps muscle, is likely to sit out at least three more games. Toronto made its first roster moves, returning first baseman Mike McDade, catcher A.J. Jimenez and right-handers Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins to its minor league camp. Houston's Wandy Rodriguez will start Sunday against Detroit's Justin Verlander. Ricky Romero will start Sunday for the Blue Jays against Pittsburgh's James McDonald.
The Associated Press News Service
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