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It starts with a slugfest ...

It starts with a slugfest ...
Heading into the 2009 major-league season, the Toronto Blue Jays realize that success or failure will rest heavily on the shoulders of their offence.

Last night, with two of their cornerstones of the future - Adam Lind and Travis Snider - doing much of the heavy lifting, the Blue Jays were able put that theory into practice, bashing out a 12-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

It was an uplifting way for the Blue Jays to celebrate their regular-season home opener, showcasing their offence with 15 hits in support of pitcher Roy Halladay, who was making his seventh consecutive opening day start. Halladay got the win, allowing all five Detroit runs off six hits over seven innings, to even his career opening day record at 3-3.

Lind shrugged off suggestions that he is too young to assume the designated-hitting chores on a full-time basis - at least for one game - driving home an opening-day, franchise-record six runs while going 4-for-5.

Snider was also productive, 2-for-4 with a homer.

It was a boisterous crowd of 48,027 - just shy of capacity - that turned out at the Rogers Centre.

During the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Blue Jays scored their final three runs, the Tigers players were ordered into their dugout after fans threw baseballs into the outfield on two separate occasions. The game was delayed for nine minutes before the umpires deemed it safe for them to return.

The game was the 33rd home opener in the history of the Blue Jays and - as in the first one played at the open-air Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977, against the Chicago White Sox - it was snowing in Toronto.

Only this time, with the lid at the Rogers Centre tightly shut, long underwear was not a necessary evil.

"No postpones here," remarked Snider, who appeared as cool as a cucumber in the clubhouse several hours before taking the field for his first major-league home opener.

Snider, who started in left field and batted ninth, was perched in front of his locker, chilling to a little hip-hop music on his iPod.

"You can feel the excitement around the clubhouse," the 21-year-old said. "For everybody here, it's good to get things started. Finally things matter now and things really count."

Snider's pregame ritual did the trick as he made an impressive early bid for American League rookie-of-the-year honours. He stroked a double to the wall in centre in his first at-bat, before he jacked a home run in the fourth.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston has been through more than a few opening days in his career, and he said all the surrounding pomp and ceremony never gets old.

Gaston's first opening day experience occurred in 1969 as a player with the San Diego Padres.

His recollections of that day: "That I wasn't playing," Gaston said wryly, before adding he was nursing an injury at the time.

The Blue Jays are relying heavily on their offence this season and it clicked into gear early. In the first inning, the Jays knocked around Detroit starter Justin Verlander for three hits and a 4-0 lead. All the runs were produced with two outs.

Lind doubled home the first two when his flare into right field scored Alex Rios and Vernon Wells.

After Verlander plunked Scott Rolen with a pitch, Lyle Overbay stroked an opposite-field double to left to score two more and provide Halladay with a cozy advantage.

Halladay was his usual stingy self and was working on a no-hitter into the fourth inning when Curtis Granderson launched a home run into the second deck in right field.



Notes Last night marked the first regular-season home opener for Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston since April 1, 1997, when his Jays were edged 6-5 in 10 innings by the Chicago White Sox. Gaston was later fired that season, only to be rehired as manager last year. ... As a result of past, unspecified events, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has issued a ban on the sale of alcohol at the Rogers Centre for today's game. The ban will also be in effect April 21 against the Texas Rangers, and the Aug. 1 CFL game between the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Next Tonight, Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. EDT

Probable pitchers Jays LHP Purcey (0-0) v. RHP Jackson (0-0)

TV Rogers Extra-Innings preview

Robert MacLeod

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 7, 2009

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