The Detroit Tigers beat the the Los Angeles Angels defense 2-1 thanks to being gifted a pair of unearned runs. The Halos had four errors on the day, three on one play, every miscue playing a part in the Tigers' scoring.
With the victory, the Tigers won the series and own a two-game winning streak over the Angels. The 10-game losing skein has been left the rear view mirror. The Tigers continue to make hay at home, raising their record to 7-3 at Comerica and 9-6 overall.
Rick Porcello (2-1) has quite the history against the Angels, almost all of it bad. Entering today's game, Porcello was 3-4 with 8.34 ERA in 45 1/3 innings versus the Halos. Yet today was an entirely different story. An extremely effective Porcello won his second game of the season, holding the team which had fueled his nightmares to one run and five hits in seven full innings. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth to earn his third save of the season.
Angels' starter Hector Santiago (0-3) was wild. Wild enough to walk five and throw 119 pitches. But the lack of command kept the Tigers guessing for 5 2/3 innings while not allowing an earned run and striking out seven. It was the Angels' defense that let Santiago down; both runs given up while he on the mound were unearned. Overall, four Angels pitchers issued ten walks, but only gave up five hits.
The Angels actually outhit the Tigers seven to five, but their lax defense cost them the game. They made blooper reels the world over on the Tigers' first score, a heads-up Ian Kinsler scoring from first base thanks to three throwing errors. The only Tiger to drive in a run was rookie Nick Castellanos. His sixth-inning single plated Austin Jackson with the game-winning run. Andrew Romine and Torii Hunter added two hits each for the winners.
Howie Kendricks drove in the lone run for the Angels, his first-inning single accounting for all the scoring off four Tigers pitchers. The Tigers held Mike Trout without a hit in the last two games of the series, finishing the weekend 2-for-10 with six strikeouts. A first-inning whiff was Trout's fifth straight, the longest streak of his career.
I made the mistake of checking out Mlive after the Alex Gonzalez news broke. The first comment I saw had a fan claiming the Tigers were "a hot mess." I hope he meant that in a positive way, otherwise he has no damn idea what he's talking about.
This "hot mess" of a team has been dominant at home, is currently playing .600 baseball at 9-6, and has the third-best record in the AL. They have played four series at home, winning three and splitting the other. Admittedly, the Tigers didn't play well on their one road trip. But when said trip is to the west coast, playing one game under .500 should be considered an accomplishment.
As for their weaknesses, today's roster move was actually quite reassuring. The Tigers showed they are not going to sit on their hands and hope they get improved play at shortstop. Instead, they decided Gonzalez was not going to be a solution, and quickly cut their losses.
The trade was a bad one, no doubt. Though the deal now looks awful in hindsight, to his credit Dave Dombrowski didn't let looking bad stop him from making needed changes and giving Danny Worth a well-deserved call up.
And isn't that what we want to see from the Tigers? Admit their mistakes and correct them? They did just that.
Some hot mess, huh?
If it's the Angels taking on Rick Porcello, there must be runners crossing the plate. His first inning was no exception to what had been a long-standing rule.
The Halos did what they always do against Porcello -- take an early lead. After a strikeout of Mike Trout (!), three straight two-out singles by Albert Pujols, Ian Stewart and Howie Kendrick gave the Angels a 1-0 lead. Kendrick's RBI was his fifth against the Tigers this weekend and seventh in his last five games.
On Kendrick's single, Torii Hunter made a futile attempt to throw out Pujols at the plate. His throw was two for the price of one -- it flew the cut-off man, and was well off-line, which allowed Kendrick to advance to second. A pair of runners in scoring position, Porcello was able to avoid further trouble, the inning ending on a David Freese ground ball.
Bottom half of the inning, Hector Santiago retired the lead-off man, Rajai Davis. Then the wheels came off the Angels' defense in spectacular fashion.
I highly suggest you read the next paragraph with Yakkity Sax playing in the background.
Ian Kinsler walked on four pitches. He took off for second on Santiago's 3-2 pitch to Miguel Cabrera. It was ball four, but catcher Hank Conger uncorked a meaningless throw regardless. Kinsler raced to third when Conger's throw sailed into center, the first error of the play. While Kinsler was taking a big turn, Trout's overly casual throw back into the infield skipped past second for another error. Kinsler took off for home plate when the balled rolled toward the mound, beating Santiago's wild throw. The third (three, count 'em, three!) error on the play allowed Cabrera to advance to second.
Miggy walks, Kinsler to third on a wild throw, scores on a wild throw, Cabrera to second on a wild throw. Score that 2-8-5-6-7-1-2-1-W-T-F— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2014
When the dust had settled, the Tigers had knotted the score at 1-1 without benefit of a hit. The run was obviously unearned, charged with errors were Conger, Trout and Santiago. Amazing. Utterly amazing.
As everyone caught their breath, Santiago shook off his being enshrined on blooper reels for all eternity by retiring Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter.
After a zany first inning, Porcello and Santiago settled into a groove.
After Kendrick's single, Porcello retired seven of the next eight Angels he faced. The one batter to reach was, of all people, ex-Tiger Brennan Boesch. He doubled with one out in the second, but advanced no further.
The Tigers' continued to aggressively run the bases, setting up a scoring opportunity in the third. Santiago has set down five straight Tigers before Andrew Romine led off the third with a single. He stole second as Davis was striking out, with help of a marvelous slide which allowed him to avoid Kendrick's tag. Romine advanced to third on Kinsler's ground out.
But Cabrera was unable to drive home the lead run with two out. Umpire Brian Knight thought Santiago's 93 mile-per-hour full-count fastball painted the black, punching out Cabrera to end the threat.
Bottom of four and the game still knotted at 1-all, the Tigers threatened again in the fourth. One down, Hunter singled to right. Austin Jackson walked on a full count. Hunter would move to third on Nick Castellanos' fly ball. But in what is becoming all too familiar a refrain, Alex Avila struck out. The lead run would remain 90 feet away.
While the Tigers were making Santiago work, yet failing to score, Porcello was shaking off his Angels demons. He had kept the Halos off the scoreboard since his rocky first, scattering five hits through five innings. Even better, Porcello's pitch count stood at reasonable 75.
Another inning, another Tigers threat, another failure to score. Romine, playing like a 28-year-old who was no longer looking over his shoulder, reached base for the second time by walking on four pitches. He would steal third, giving Kinsler and Cabrera an RBI opportunity.
Despite flirting with disaster all game long, Santiago would once again dance away unscathed. Kinsler popped up and a visibly frustrated Cabrera was caught looking with Romine in scoring position for a second straight at-bat.
Santiago had been effectively wild. Through the fifth, he walked four, allowed runners to reach scoring position in four innings, all while throwing 105 pitches. Yet Santiago had also struck out seven, and the only run he had given up was unearned, thanks to the circus arriving in the first inning.
Top of six, Trout reached base for the first time since Friday with a lead-off walk. He wasn't on base long, Porcello inducing Pujols to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
Porcello had done his part. Could the offense hold up their part of the bargain?
Santiago would ultimately pitch into the sixth, muddling his way to a 5 2/3 inning effort. He was finally pulled by Mike Scioscia after 119 pitches. The final straw was Santiago serving up his fifth free pass, walking Jackson on four pitches with two down in the sixth.
Right-hander Kevin Jepsen took over, getting no favors from the Angels' defense. Conger tried to pick off Jackson with a snap throw to to first. He snapped it all the way into right field, Jackson advancing to second on Conger's second throwing error, the Angels' fourth miscue on the day.
Castellanos would make the Angels pay for their defensive ineptitude with an RBI single to center, giving the Tigers their first lead of the day at 2-1. It was Castellanos' eighth RBI in what has been an impressive start to his rookie season.
Top of seven, Brad Ausmus had Ian Krol and Evan Reed warming up while looking to get one more inning out of Porcello. The bullpen would have to wait at least one more inning, Porcello retiring the side in order.
Porcello holds the Angels to 1 run on 5 hits through 7 IP. The same Porcello who didn't pitch more than 5 innings vs the Angels in 2013.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2014
The monkey off Porcello's back after seven very effective innings against the Angels, Ausmus opened the eighth with Krol on the mound. Thanks to a Collin Cowgill bloop and a ground ball, Trout came to the plate with two out and the tying run on second.
Al Alburquerque entered the game in place of Krol, needing only two pitches to extinguish the threat. Trout's rough weekend continued, bouncing out to third.
There would be no insurance runs for closer Joe Nathan today. Bottom of eight and Joe Smith on the mound for the Angels, once again the Tigers threatened, but did not score. Hunter singled with one out, stole second (after an excruciatingly long replay review on a pick off attempt - MLB.com video) and left there when Castellanos struck out.
Nathan entered the game in the top of the ninth, entrusted with a one-run lead. He retired the first two Angels he faced, but Kendrick remained unstoppable. He extended the inning with a single to center, wrapping up the three-game series 7-for-11 with five RBIs.
Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for David Freese, Nathan quickly falling behind in the count 3-0. Just as the fanbase sighed "here we go again," Nathan came back to strike out the ancient Angel swinging.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Angels' defense minus-2, Angels' offense 1.
The Tigers take two of three from the team which swept them in six games last season. Rick Porcello, Angel slayer? Today, he was just that.
The final series of the home stand starts Monday night as the Chicago White Sox arrive for four games. Veteran left-hander John Danks (1-0, 3.32 ERA) gets the starting assignment for the ChiSox, while Anibal Sanchez takes the mound for Detroit.
Danks has bounced back from an awful 2013, starting this season with three quality starts for the White Sox. Danks is coming off his best game of the season, holding the Red Sox to one run and three hits over six innings.
The cold weather not agreeing with Sanchez, he has yet to pitch past the fifth inning in any of his three starts. Stuggling with his command in the first two innings, Sanchez only allowed two hits but walked four and allowed two runs in five innings in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.
Barring bad weather (there's a 70% chance of rain tomorrow night), first pitch at Comerica Park is set for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Top of the first, Mike Trout found himself in uncharted territory, striking out for the fifth straight at-bat. You would have expected anyone other than Rick Porcello to have punched out Wonderboy:
I feel like we need more time to savor that Trout strikeout. Lifetime vs Porcello: .400/.455/.700 with a 1.155 OPS.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2014
Apparently there was a fan behind the Angels dugout was causing quite stir in the press box.
Sentence I never thought I'd tweet: There appears to be a man in an Iron Man costume behind home plate doing pelvic thrusts at Porcello.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) April 20, 2014
If it wasn't so disturbingly funny, I would ordinarily wish that @Stareagle had never shown me where the fan in the Iron Man costume is.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) April 20, 2014
If you're at CoPa, do yourself a favor and check out the fan in an Iron Man costume as he gyrates behind the screen next to #Angels dugout.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) April 20, 2014
Fans went into reporter mode:
Weird Iron Man guy, firsthand pic.twitter.com/x0Np17s0sg— Abby Netterfield (@abbynetterfield) April 20, 2014
Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press came through with video:
Catherine sums up the ongoing ridiculousness in the stands:
Goodness, the things you see at a baseball game.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) April 20, 2014
In a crazy-long challenge, the replay crew in New York needed 3:18 to determine Torii Hunter was not picked off first base in the bottom of the eighth. If you use MLB.TV, there can only be one explanation.
/umps phone New York command center /get "blackout restriction" message— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2014
Stat of the day: With three stolen bases today, the Tigers have 15 on the season. Things sure have changed...
Per Dan Dickerson, it took the Tigers until Game 50 last year to reach the stolen base total they just reached today.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2014
Andrew Romine: With Alex Gonzalez no longer in the shortstop conversation, is it a coincidence that Romine had his best game as a Tiger? Along with his usual solid defense, Romine reached base three times on a walk and two singles, adding two stolen bases.
Nick Castellanos: The game-winning RBI for the rookie raises his total to eight on the season. That's third overall on the team.
Rick Porcello: Kid Rick remembers, obviously enjoying a little payback.
Porcello asked if he recalled what Angels did to him a year ago today. Rick: "No, I completely forgot." Then laughed— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) April 20, 2014
Ian Kinsler: Didn't have a hit, but reached base with a pair of walks and scored a run. Brad Ausmus wasn't thrilled Kinsler took off for home during the first-inning craziness, considering Victor Martinez was due to the plate. But the Tigers' skipper made sure to say he is not going discourage aggressive base running.
"I'd rather they err on the side of being aggressive than passive."
The Angels' defense: Four errors and two unearned runs, thank you very much. Hank Conger's arm was as accurate as sawed-off shotgun at long range, a pair of throwing errors setting up both of the Tigers' scores.
Alex Avila: Another awful game at the plate for Avila with three strikeouts. He's now hitting .167/.286/.222 while whiffing at a ridiculous rate, 21 K in 36 at bats. To Avila's credit, his awful start hasn't affected his defense. But the Tigers must get more production out of their catcher offensively,
Miguel Cabrera: Another hitless game for the reigning MVP. A 4-for-19 performance on the home stand drops Cabrera's stat line to an Avila-like .220/.292/.356. When asked if Cabrera was injured, Ausmus said no, and added:
"I know Miggy is going to be fine."
Overly long replay review: The eighth-inning challenge involving Torii Hunter being picked off took 3:18 to resolve in the Tigers' favor. It felt like an hour. I want the correct calls made and I'm in favor of review, but the process does need refinement.
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GAME 14 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Max Scherzer was his Cy Young self in winning his first game of 2014. He took player of the game honors thanks to holding the Angels to just one run on three hits, adding nine Ks. Scherzer also became the second pitcher to strike out Mike Trout three times in a game.