The Detroit Tigers bounced back from a miserable performance on Friday, beating the the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 behind the right arm of Max Scherzer and a pair of long balls. The Tigers recorded their first win over the Angels since August 2012, snapping a 10-game losing streak.
Scherzer (1-1) got stronger as the game went on, earning his first win of 2014. After allowing a lead-off home run, the reigning Cy Young kept the Angels off the scoreboard through seven innings. Scherzer struck out nine, giving up just the one run on three hits. The Tigers' bullpen was a mixed bag. Joba Chamberlain tossed a scoreless eighth, but Joe Nathan served up a home run to Albert Pujols in the ninth.
Halos starter C.J. Wilson took the loss, his personal winning streak ending at two. Wilson was pulled after five innings, having allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits. Reliever Josh Wall was charged for the Tigers' final run, the sixth he's given up in the first two games of the series.
The Tigers have been lacking in the home run department this season, entering the day with 11. For the first time in six games and for only the third time this season, the Tigers hit more than one home run. They rode pair of big flies to victory, Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez going deep. Ian Kinsler capped off the Tigers' scoring with a sacrifice fly, giving him seven RBIs in his last three games.
Martinez led the Tigers' offense by reaching base four times with two hits and two walks. Bryan Holaday and Austin Jackson chipped in with two hits each.
The Angels had just four hits on the day. All their scoring came via bookend solo home runs - a first-inning shot from J.B. Shuck, and the ninth-inning homer from Pujols.
The Tigers get one monkey off their back by finally beating the Angels. It remains to be seen if the losing streak can be converted into a winning streak versus the Halos, as Rick Porcello is tomorrow's starting pitcher for Detroit. The Angels are Porcello's nightmare fuel. His career record versus the Angels is 3-4 with 8.34 ERA in 45 1/3 innings, and has been pummeled to the tune of .351/.400/.531, a .931 OPS in nine games.
The 2013 season was typical for Porcello when facing the Angels. April had the "death by papercuts" game, Porcello allowing nine runs in just 2/3 of an inning while the Tigers lost 10-0. In June, the Tigers fell 14-8, the Angels battering Porcello for seven runs and ten hits in 4 1/3 innings.
If Porcello can somehow conquer his Angels demons, only then will I believe they no longer have the Tigers' number.
Top of the first against Max Scherzer, the Angels picked up right where they left off on Friday night. Lead off man J.B. Shuck yanked Scherzer's 92 mile-per-hour fastball over the right field wall. His first home run of the season stunned the crowd, the Angels taking a 1-0 advantage.
The big fly apparently woke up Scherzer, who proceeded to strike out the meat of the Angels' order - Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez.
The Tigers aggressive base running backfired in the bottom half of the inning. Rajai Davis led off against C.J. Wilson, bouncing a single up the middle. But an on the money throw from catcher Hank Conger nailed Davis trying to steal. It was the second caught stealing of the season for Davis.
The caught stealing cost the Tigers a run. After Miguel Cabrera had walked, Davis would have scored when Victor Martinez lined a single to deep right center. Torii Hunter, the Tigers' RBI leader, was unable to add to his total, flying out to right to end the threat.
Ohhhh, NOW you catch one, Brennan Boesch.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 19, 2014
Last night, the Tigers' bats didn't wake up until they were ten runs down and the game out of reach. Today was another, and apparently, much better, day -- at least when it comes to the Tigers' offense.
Austin Jackson led off the bottom of the second with a single to center. Nick Castellanos quickly put last night's disaster in the rear view, lining Wilson's 2-0 pitch over the left field wall. Castellanos' second career home run plated Jackson, giving the Tigers their first lead of the series at 2-1 (MLB.com video).
By the third, Scherzer had completely shrugged off the Shuck big fly. He had allowed lead-off singles in the second and third, but then retired the side in order.
Brennan Boesch got the start in right field for the Halos. Bottom of three, he made a play which would trigger unpleasant flashbacks for Tigers fans. Cabrera led off with a lazy fly ball to short right. Boesch charged, got there late and his attempt at a basket catch failed miserably, dropping the ball. The E-9 would set up a scoring opportunity.
Wilson's pitch count was rising rapidly, pushing 70. He went to a full count on Martinez before walking him. Hunter flied out to center, Cabrera challenging Wonderboy's arm by taking off for third. He was called out (A TOOTBLAN!), but replay showed Cabrera had beaten the throw to the bag (NO TOOTBLAN!). Manager Brad Ausmus made the appropriate challenge, and the call was correctly overturned.
Cabrera's aggressive base running and Asumus' challenge paid off with a run. The Tigers increased their lead to 3-1, Cabrera scoring easily on Jackson's sacrifice fly to deep right.
A visibly PO'ed Scherzer got into a jam of his own doing in the fourth. He sandwiched an out between issuing walks to Pujols and Howie Kendrick. Two down after a fielder's choice, the Tigers thought they had ended the inning when Bryan Holaday threw out Ian Stewart trying to steal second. But the umpires had their second call overturned in less than an inning, Mike Scioscia winning his challenge.
A long, 30-pitch inning for Scherzer ended without allowing a run, stranding a pair of runners in scoring position by striking out Erick Aybar.
Bottom of five, while Ken Rosenthal was jabbering on about contract negotiations, Scherzer bounced back to retire the side in order (the first for either team) on eight pitches.
The Tigers entered today's action with a mere 11 home runs, 12th in the AL and only 25th overall. Martinez did his part to move the Tigers higher on the dinger list, ripping Wilson's 2-2 pitch on a line into the bullpens in left. The solo shot, Martinez's third home run of the season extended the Tigers' lead to 4-1 (MLB.com video).
Ian Krol and Al Alburquerque were warming up, but Scherzer was motoring through the Angels' lineup as he reached the seventh. It was more of the same, the Halos going down in order. Scherzer's day came to an end after his third consecutive 1-2-3 inning, retiring the last 11 Angels he faced.
Angels reliever Yoslan Herrera served up a one-out double to Cabrera in the seventh. The Angels wanted nothing to with Martinez with a runner in scoring position in the seventh, issuing an intentional pass. The strategy paid off, Hunter and Jackson ending the inning with cans of corn.
Top of eight, working in setup duty with a three-run advantage was Joba Chamberlain. In what was his best inning as a Tiger, Chamberlain struck out two while needing a whole eight pitches to set the Halos down in order.
The Angels gave Josh Wall the ball for a second straight game. Wall crumbed Friday, serving up five runs. Saturday was more of the same, shooting himself in the foot. Wall loaded the bases with one out, on a Holaday bunt single and a pair of walks. Kinsler made sure the ninth would not be a save situation for Joe Nathan, giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead with a sacrifice fly.
Nathan started off with a bang as Trout led off the ninth by striking out for the fourth time on the day. Pujols made things a little too interesting when he yanked the first pitch he saw over the fence in left. His sixth homer of the season cut the Tigers' lead to three at 5-2.
The run really didn't mean much, as Nathan quickly shook it off. He ended the day in style with a strikeout of Kendrick, the 13th of the afternoon for Tigers' pitching.
GAME OVER! Your final score is Tigers 5, Angels 2. The losing streak to the Halos is snapped at 10 games. About damn time.
The series finale features Angels lefty Hector Santiago (0-2, 4.96 ERA) taking on Rick Porcello (1-1, 4.15 ERA).
Santiago was rocked in his first two appearances, both losses to the Mariners, allowing eight runs and 12 hits over a combined 9 1/3 innings. He bounced back in his last start, holding the A's to just one run and five hits over seven innings, but earned a no decision.
Porcello's two starts have been polar opposites. He's been both lights-out and shelled. Porcello allowed just one run and three hits to beat the Orioles, then getting rocked for five runs and ten hits in a loss to the Padres. But as you read above, the Angels have been Porcello's Waterloo the last few season.
Sunday's first pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Weird FOX Sports synergy going on. Their NFL mascot Cleatus is in Detroit for the Tigers game and posed with a giant bobblehead of the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk (HEAD ASPLODES).
Austin Jackson has learned how to get runners home from third base with less than two out. You get the ball in the air. His last three RBIs have come via sacrifice fly. He had a pair in the win over the Indians on Thursday, following up with a third-inning sacrifice fly this afternoon.
Albert Pujols is only two home runs away from joining an extremely exclusive club (one that was even more exclusive before the Steroid Era). By taking Nathan deep in the ninth, Pujols has 498 home runs for his career. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, Pujols will become the 26th member of MLB's 500 home run club. He'll be the first addition since Gary Sheffield reached the 500 mark in 2009.
The Tigers are the first team to strike out Mike Trout four times in one game. Max Scherzer is one of two pitchers to punch him out three times.
Max Scherzer: How good was Scherzer? Of his nine strikeouts, five came off some of the best hitters in the game - Mike Trout went down three times, Albert Pujols twice. Scherzer is just the second pitcher to strike out Trout three times in one game. His seven full innings is the deepest a Tigers starting pitcher has gone since Scherzer himself went seven against the Dodgers almost two weeks ago.
Nick Castellanos: The rookie woke up the offense from Friday's slumber with a two-run homer, giving Scherzer a lead he would never relinquish. It was his second homer of the season and Castellanos' first career dinger at Comerica Park.
Victor Martinez: The veteran DH is the Tigers' hottest hitter. His fourth multi-hit game of the season included a home run, raising Martinez's line to a dandy .333/.389/.542.
Austin Jackson: His removal from the lead-off slot has been the best thing to happen to Jackson, who's ripping the cover off the ball from the five hole. Two more hits today have the Tigers' center fielder hitting .320/.356/.500.
Joba Chamberlain: Chamberlain was dominant in setup duty, striking out two and retiring another with a weak ground ball. He's struck out seven in his last four innings, all scoreless appearances.
Torii Hunter: He's been all or nothing, feast or famine this season. Today was famine. Hunter was 0-for-4, dropping him to 2-for-16 on the home stand.
Joe Nathan: Still working out the kinks, giving up a ninth-inning home run. In seven appearances this season, Nathan has allowed hits in five, and at least one run in four.
TOOTBLANS: The Tigers had a pair of runners thrown out on the bases. Though not a TOOTBLAN, Rajai Davis' caught stealing in the first did cost the Tigers a run. Andrew Romine trying to run on J.B Shuck's arm in the sixth, turning a single into an outfield assist at second, was pure TOOTBLAN.
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GAME 13 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
In honor of the Detroit Red Wings upsetting the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their playoff series, Pavel Datsyuk was listed as one of the player of the game candidates. He won with ease, topping Justin Miller and Ian Kinsler by taking 51% of the vote. Head over to Winging it in Motown for all your Red Wings playoff coverage.