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Angels 2, Tigers 1: LA bullpen shuts down Detroit offense, Drew Smyly strikes out career high 11 in loss

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The Tigers let an excellent outing from Drew Smyly go to waste in a 2-1 loss to the Angels. Detroit's offense could not get anything going against five LA pitchers, held to one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings.

Ed Zurga

Thanks to excellent relief work, the Los Angeles Angels made a pair of sixth inning runs hold up in a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. The teams with the second (LA) and third (Detroit) best records in the AL have gone toe-to-toe, splitting the first two of their four game series.

Both starters were pulled in the sixth inning, putting the game in the hands of the bullpens. The Tigers' bullpen was good, not allowing a run on three hits, walking one. But the Angels' bullpen was better. Four Angels' relievers held the Tigers scoreless on one hit, striking out five over the final 3 1/3 innings, slamming the door on the victory with prejudice.

Angels starter Tyler Skaggs pitched into the sixth inning, pulled after allowing five hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings.

Unlike last night, the Angels' bullpen came out firing. Mike Morin (W, 3-3) would take over for Skaggs, pitching out of a bases loaded jam by striking out Torii Hunter on three pitches. Retiring the one batter would be enough to give Morin the victory. Kevin Jepsen brought the heat in the seventh, striking out the side. Joe Smith tossed a 1-2-3 eighth. closer Huston Street pitched the ninth and allowed the only hit off the bullpen all night on a two out Hunter single. Street would record the final out to record his second save as an Angel and his 26th overall.

Detroit couldn't take advantage on offense while starter Drew Smyly (L, 6-9) was mowing down batters early on. Smyly no-hit the Angels for 4 1/3 innings and shut them out for five. Smyly tired in the sixth, pulled after striking out a career high 11 over 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking just one.

Al Alburquerque took over, giving up a single and striking out two while holding the Angels scoreless over 1 1/3 innings. Blaine Hardy allowed a pair of hits in his one inning of work, but kept the Angels off the scoreboard in the eighth.

The Tigers' much maligned bullpen was good enough and kept the game close. But the Tigers' offense was M.I.A., as shown by six hits. Miguel Cabrera had two of the hits, supplying all the Detroit offense with his 16th home run of the season in the fourth inning.

The Angels out-hit the Tigers by only one, 7-6. But three of the hits came during a five batter stretch in the sixth inning, priving to be the difference in the game. Chris Iannetta doubled and scored on Kole Calhoun's RBI two base hit. Calhoun scored on Efren Navarro's two out RBI single, which turn out to be the game-winner.

Good pitching will beat good hitting, and that's just what went down tonight. Both teams got excellent pitching performances, but the Angels' arms were just a little better.

ROARS:

Drew Smyly: Was lights out for five innings, shutting out the Angels on one hit, striking out  ten. The sixth was a different story. Smyly did record his career high 11th strikeout, but also gave up two runs on three hits before being pulled with two out. Regardless of how the game finished, it was a second straight very good outing for the young lefty.

Miguel Cabrera: The Tigers' only offense against the Angels came via Cabrera's fourth inning solo home run (MLB.com video).

No more 10 PM starts: This is the Tigers' last west coast trip of the season, and tonight was their last post 10 PM eastern start. Tomorrow's game has a first pitch of 9:05 PM, and Sunday's will be at 3:35 PM. Thank God.

HISSES:

Top of the order: There was no one on base for the middle of the order tonight. Ian Kinsler and Austin Jackson combined on an 0-for-8, two strikeout game..

Alex Avila: As good as Avila is while wearing the tools of ignorance, it was another brutal night when using the lumber. Struck out with runners on the corners to end the third, bounced into a double play in the fifth, and capped off an 0-for-3 night by striking out again in the seventh.

Torii Hunter: Singled in four at-bats, but his third at-bat was the dagger. Swinging from the heels, Hunter struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth, ending the Tigers' last, best scoring threat.

The Tigers' offense: The Tigers had their chances, especially against Tyler Skaggs in the third and sixth innings. But Detroit batters struck out 10 times, only drew one walk and were held to one base runner over the final three innings.

NOTES:

God help us all if the Tigers go to the same well as the unbearably scruffy looking 2013 Red Sox.

J.D. Martinez returned to the lineup after missing two games with upper quad soreness. Martinez didn't miss a beat, doubling in his first at-bat. He would finish 1-for-4.

The game tied at 1-all in the sixth, a runner on second with two out, Brad Ausmus played L/R percentages. He called for Drew Smyly to issue an intentional walk of right-hand hitting Albert Pujols in order to face the lefty swinging Efren Navarro. The numbers said it was the proper move, Pujols owning an .821 OPS versus left-handers to Navarro's .414. But the IBB backfired when Navarro bounced a two-strike RBI single back through the middle, giving the Angels a lead they would never relinquish..

The odd part of Smyly's fifth inning was two of the three hits allowed came off the left-handed bats of Kole Calhoun and Navarro. Lefties have hit just .155/.184/.245 against Smyly this season.

Ausmus elected to use Blaine Hardy instead of newly acquired Joakim Soria in the eighth inning. Hardy found himself in a two out jam, putting runners on the corners before an excellent play by Ian Kinsler got him of trouble.We'll have to wait at least one more day before we see Detroit's prize trade deadline pickup.

STREAKS AND STATS:

Drew Smyly retired the first 13 Angels he faced, losing the no-hit bid in with one out in the fifth when Howie Kendrick doubled off the wall in right center. In his last start, Smyly no-hit the Indians for 4 2/3 innings before allowing a hit.

Last night Max Scherzer struck out five of the first nine Angels he faced. Tonight Smyly decided he could do better, striking out seven of nine in the first three innings.

Smyly reached a new season high in the fifth with his eighth K. He had previously struck out seven in a game twice this season.

A sixth inning whiff of Mike Trout was Smyly's last of the night, establishing a new career high of 11 strikeouts.

Tigers pitching has handcuffed Trout over the first two games of the series. The Angels' MVP candidate is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts.

Miguel Cabrera had an 18 game homerless stretch between July 1-23. He's turned the power switch to "on." Cabrera went yard in the fourth, giving him two home runs in his last three games.

It also was career home run number 382 for Cabrera, tying him with Albert Belle for 65th in MLB history.

The home run was also his 243rd as a Tiger, putting him one back of tying Sweet Lou Whitaker for sixth most in franchise history.

Cabrera leads all of MLB with 81 RBI.

Austin Jackson was held without a hit, snapping his streak of multi-hit games at seven.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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