Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue Jays' sub DeRosa hits big blast

Last-minute replacement comes through with dinger

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TORONTO -- Mark DeRosa is the first to admit he isn't exactly an intimidating batter.

DeRosa, a 38-year-old bench player the Blue Jays added this season for depth, has been dealing with a sore neck and a slump at the plate in which he hadn't had a hit since June 18 against Colorado.

So when an injury forced first baseman Adam Lind out of the roster, DeRosa found himself filling in Monday. Even more unexpected was his No. 4 spot in the batting order.

But no one was more surprised than the Detroit Tigers when DeRosa launched a three-run homer in Toronto's 8-3 victory against the American League champions.

"I've always been a guy who likes to work the ball the other way and it's been frustrating over the last couple weeks," said DeRosa. "You know, flying open, striking out and grounding out to short. Doing things that I pride myself on being a quality at-bat. Definitely hitting fourth was not on the agenda coming into the season."

DeRosa joked he told star Jose Bautista, who was hitting third in the lineup after slugger Edwin Encarnacion was pulled just before the game with left hamstring soreness, to take off his shin guard at the plate and expect to be walked.

It ended up being no joke at all. The Tigers walked Bautista twice, and DeRosa made them pay in the fourth inning with his fifth homer of the season.

"Obviously you can't replace Eddie, you can't replace the way Lind swung the bat. I'm aware of that," said DeRosa. "But there's guys here that are capable of doing things they have to to help us win."

DeRosa had plenty of help during a festive Canada Day game at Rogers Centre.

Shortstop Jose Reyes, who made his first appearance at home since April before he was put on the disabled list with a severely sprained left ankle, hit his second home run in two games.

Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (8-8), following up on his best outing of the season last week, was again solid against Detroit's intimidating batting order. He allowed two earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts through seven innings.

Two of those strikeouts were against reigning batting champion Miguel Cabrera, who is leading the majors with a .369 average. Dickey said his velocity is returning, and that's making the knuckleball much more effective than it was during a rough start to the season.

"I think any pedestrian could see that (the pitch) is harder. That the velocity's come back," said Dickey. "It's been kind of a tough go getting it back. I threw a knuckleball 81 miles an hour today, I threw a lot of 80 miles an hour, I threw an 85 mile an hour fastball. All those velocities are tops for the year."

Prince Fielder, who hit a solo homer off Dickey, said he could see why the other Tigers batters were having so much trouble.

"It was knuckling. It's hard for catchers to catch it so imagine how hard it is to hit it," said Fielder.

Dickey was relieved by Steve Delabar, who impressed by striking out the heart of Detroit's offence in Torii Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder in the eighth inning. Aaron Loup finished the game for Toronto in the ninth to get the Blue Jays (41-41) back to .500.

Omar Infante, who finished 4-for-4, went deep in the ninth for the slumping Tigers (43-38), who now have just one win in their last seven games and trail American League Central-leading Cleveland by a half-game.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 2, 2013 C6

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