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Frank Thomas' livid reaction to being benched didn't stop the Toronto Blue Jays from snapping a six-game home losing streak their last time out.
They hope to avoid any other distractions on Sunday, when they continue a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Toronto –129 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit +119 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Thomas was benched Saturday for the Blue Jays' 3-2 win over the Tigers (6-12). Toronto (9-9) had lost three straight overall, including 8-4 in the series opener on Friday.
Manager John Gibbons started Matt Stairs at designated hitter on Saturday in place of Thomas. Stairs was 2-for-3 with a run, and can expect to see more playing time since Gibbons plans to reduce Thomas' plate appearances.
"I'm going to put the team out there that gives us the best chance to win," Gibbons said. "I feel for the guy (Thomas), but right now we need more production."
Thomas is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and hitting just .167 this season. He hasn't homered since doing so in three straight games April 5-8.
Thomas signed a two-year, $18 million contract with Toronto in November 2006. The deal includes a $10 million option for 2009, but only if Thomas makes 376 plate appearances this year. Thomas, who's hit 516 career homers, believes the option is why his playing time is being cut.
"It's pretty obvious," said the 39-year-old Thomas. "Sixty at bats isn't enough to make that decision. I'm angry, I know I can help this team. My career isn't going to end like this."
Alex Rios homered in the first for Toronto, which also got runs on a bases-loaded walk in the second and a fielding error by Miguel Cabrera in the fifth. The win was the Blue Jays' first at home since a three-game sweep of defending World Series champion Boston from April 4-6.
"You don't see the guys down or anything," said Toronto starter Dustin McGowan, who got the win. "We're still playing hard. We knew eventually we were going to come out of it. Now it's just time to get on a roll and go with it."
The Tigers, who have lost two of three after a three-game winning streak, will hand the ball to Nate Robertson (0-1, 7.02 ERA), who left his last start on Tuesday against Minnesota with tightness in his left side.
Robertson pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He did not earn a decision in the 6-5 win.
Robertson was examined on Wednesday and told the Tigers' official Web site that he was feeling better and didn't anticipate any problems on Sunday. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance against Toronto.
The Blue Jays will counter with A.J. Burnett (1-1, 7.27), who pitched an inning of relief in Toronto's 7-5 loss to Texas in 14 on Wednesday. Burnett was charged with the loss after giving up two runs and three hits.
Burnett also struggled in his start last Sunday against Texas, allowing four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. He did not earn a decision in the 10-inning 5-4 win. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 9.88 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers.