With an assist from rookie third baseman Jeimer Candelario, VerHagen went one better.
Candelario helped turn Detroit's first triple play in 16 years, Nicholas Castellanos slugged his third career grand slam and the Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night.
With runners at first and second, Candelario backhanded Kevin Pillar's grounder and stepped on third base. Second baseman Ian Kinsler took his feed and made a quick turn for the second out, and his throw to first narrowly beat Pillar for the Tigers' first triple play since Aug. 1, 2001.
It was the 34th triple play in team history, and the first for Detroit in a game that also included a Tigers grand slam.
"Candy made a great play," VerHagen said. "That ball was hit pretty hard, that wasn't an easy play at all. He picked me up, for sure."
Ausmus joked that VerHagen hadn't done as asked.
"He actually didn't really follow direction because I told him to get a double play and he didn't," Ausmus said.
Candelario said Kinsler warned him to be ready for a triple play before it happened.
"I was prepared, man," Candelario said. "I said, 'If he gives me a grounder to the other side, I'm going to do this.'"
It was the ninth time the Blue Jays have hit into a triple play and first since July 2015.
"You think maybe the ball is down in the corner and we're sitting on a big inning," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That was a big part of the game, no doubt."
Castellanos hit his slam off Marcus Stroman (11-7) in the third inning, and Kinsler added a solo shot in the seventh.
Tigers right-hander Buck Farmer (4-2) allowed two runs, one earned, in five innings.
"He did what he normally does when he pitches well," Ausmus said. "He locates his fastball and uses his breaking ball."
VerHagen pitched 1 1/3 innings, Daniel Stumpf got two outs, Alex Wilson worked the eighth and Shane Greene finished for his seventh save in 10 chances.
Jose Bautista and Richard Urena hit solo homers for last-place Toronto, which lost for the 15th time in 20 games. Urena connected off Wilson to begin the eighth, the first of his career.
Detroit did all its scoring against Stroman with a five-hit, bat-around third. All five hits came with two outs.
Stroman retired the first eight Tigers he faced before Dixon Machado doubled. Kinsler followed with a single, Candelario walked and Castellanos, making his first career start in right field, followed by crushing the first pitch for his 21st homer.
"I just told myself to look for something over the plate and drive it to the big part of the field," Castellanos said.
Stroman left his previous start, Sept. 2 at Baltimore, in the second inning after being hit on the right elbow by Mark Trumbo's line drive. Against Detroit, he allowed four runs in six innings, losing for the first time since Aug. 11.
"Felt like I made some good pitches throughout the day," Stroman said. "Definitely wasn't at 100 percent."
Toronto scored a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings before Kinsler made it 5-2 with a two-out drive off Danny Barnes.
ON A TEAR
Castellanos has 26 RBIs in his past 25 games. He has hit safely in 10 of his past 11, and is batting .378 (17 for 45) in that span.
OUT IN THE FIELD
Castellanos had not played the outfield since making nine appearances in left during his rookie season in 2013.
SANCHEZ GOES SUNDAY
Ausmus said RHP Anibal Sanchez, who left his previous outing after just five pitches when he was struck on the right calf by a batted ball, will start Sunday against the Blue Jays.
BACK IN THE SADDLE
Gibbons rejoined the team after missing five games while attending to personal matters. Bullpen coach Dane Johnson left the team Friday to return to his Florida home in advance of Hurricane Irma. Former Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen replaced Johnson.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck) had an injection Wednesday after being bothered by neck pain in his previous two starts and will not throw for three days. Zimmermann will rejoin the Tigers in Cleveland next week. ... RHP Michael Fulmer (elbow) is scheduled to visit surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
Blue Jays: 3B Josh Donaldson (illness) was scratched from the starting lineup. ... OF Steve Pearce (lower back) left after striking out in the first. He was replaced by Teoscar Hernandez.
Tigers: LHP Chad Bell (0-2, 5.98) will make his second career start Saturday. He allowed five runs in four innings in a loss to Cleveland on Sunday.
Blue Jays: LHP Brett Anderson (2-3, 6.42) is 0-1 with a 3.08 ERA in two starts since joining Toronto's rotation.