Avila making habit of going deep for Verlander

Avila making habit of going deep for Verlander

Avila making habit of going deep for Verlander
TORONTO -- Almost lost in the shuffle of Justin Verlander's no-hitter Saturday is that the Tigers scored early runs in their 9-0 win over the Blue Jays.

And one of the two home runs the Tigers hit was by catcher Alex Avila. It is something they had joked about the day before the start.

"We were joking the day before yesterday that I was probably going to hit a home run because most of my home runs have come when he's been pitching," Avila said.

Avila has six home runs this season -- four in games that Verlander has started -- but not all when he was still in the game.

Manager Jim Leyland had said on Saturday morning that he'd like to see his team score some early runs to give his pitchers a chance to relax.

"It's definitely tough for the pitcher, knowing he has to go and shut them down," Avila said. "You want him to relax a little bit and get settled into the ballgame. It was good to get early runs. Toronto, they're an aggressive team, they can put runs on you in a hurry. You can miss it in a blink. It was good to get those early runs. We've been kind of in and out with our offense."

"I think I've talked about it a couple of times this year, that I'd like see us jump out on somebody once in a while," Leyland said. "And see what our pitchers would do if we gave them some cushion every once in a while.

"And yesterday we finally did that, and I thought it relaxed Justin a little bit. If we've got one run or two runs, you know you're pitching a no-hitter, but you're also trying to win the game . You're trying to keep them off the boards. So I thought that was huge yesterday. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more of that."