A solid effort from starter Matt Manning and a ton of early offense all went to waste in this one. The Tigers bullpen collapsed like a house of cards from the sixth inning on for probably the worst loss of the 2021 season as the Angels stormed back from an eight run deficit to win 13-10.
Things got off to a rousing start on Thursday afternoon. Starter Matt Manning allowed a single but no more in the first, and the Tigers’ offense quickly jumped on Angels’ starter Jose Quintana. Scheduled starter Patrick Sandoval was scratched prior to the game and moved to the 10-day IL, so Quintana was in a tricky spot and it looked it. A pair of soft singles from Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario set up Miguel Cabrera who grounded one back up the middle for a single to score Schoop. A passed ball moved Candy and Cabrera to third and second, respectively. Daz Cameron followed with a ground out to third, with Candelario scoring on the play. A nice pick by Jose Iglesias on a hot shot off the bat of Willi Castro saved the Angels from further damage, but only for a little while.
Manning gave the runs right back in the top of the second inning. A one-out walk issued to Jo Adell set up Brandon Marsh, who jumped on a first pitch slider and drilled it to the wall in right for an RBI triple. Manning got Max Stassi to ground out, but Walsh scored on the play to knot things at two runs apiece.
The Tigers’ offense was not having this, however, and exploded for five runs in the bottom of the second. Zack Short led off the inning with a solo shot, and Dustin Garneau, Upton, Grossman, and Candelario all singled in a row, scoring Garneau, chasing Quintana, and loading the bases for Cabrera. The crowd was going bananas hoping that number 500 would be a slam, but Cabrera is a professional hitter and took what was offered, ripping a ground ball double into the left field corner to clear the bases.
Manning got in a little trouble in the third, but struck out Phil Gosselin and Justin Upton to escape. Meanwhile the Tigers squandered in the bottom half of the inning as Victor Reyes led off with a double, but was then thrown out trying to steal third for some reason. Robbie Grossman immediately doubled to prove what a bad decision that was, and the Tigers were ultimately turned away.
Manning continued to alternate between good stretches and some wildness. He dug himself a hole in the top of the fourth with a pair of walks, but was able to escape the jam. Jeimer Candelario and Willi Castro then launched solo shots in the bottom half of the inning to make it 9-2 Tigers. Things were looking very good.
Manning struck out Gosselin again to lead off the fifth but then lost the plot again, walking Jared Walsh on four straight pitches. None were close. Justin Upton was then given first base on catcher interference as his bat appeared to nudge Dustin Garneau’s glove as he reached for the pitch, though Upton wasn’t trying to swing anyway. The call wasn’t immediately made, and Upton and then Joe Maddon argued with home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott until someone realized they should challenge the play rather than yelling about it.
After a video review, they gave Upton first base, leading A.J. Hinch to engage in a lengthy argument with Wolcott as well. Wolcott was heard shrieking at Hinch on the home plate mics, and ultimately threw the Tigers skipper out of the game for his first ejection of the season. Hinch was seemingly questioning why this had been allowed to go on for several minutes and bring the game to a standstill when the Angels should’ve had just the usual 30 seconds to call for a review.
Anywho, Manning shrugged it off and popped Jo Adell up for the second out of the inning. Bench coach George Lombard turned to Derek Holland to handle Marsh, and Holland struck him out to end the threat.
None of this seemed likely to have an impact on the game’s outcome at that point. Robbie Grossman walked, stole second, and scored on a Schoop double down the left field line in the bottom of the fifth, and it was 10-2 Tigers.
Right about then, the momentum in the game completely reversed. Holland got one out to start the top of the sixth, but also gave up three singles to load the bases. Lombard turned to Joe Jiménez, and the big right-hander couldn’t handle it. Gosselin hit a chopper right back to the mound, deflecting off Jiménez, and everyone was safe with a run in. Jiménez then just fell apart, walking Walsh and Upton back-to-back to force in two more runs. He then got himself tossed yelling at Wolcott, who hadn’t missed a strike call in either at-bat according to Gameday. Either way, Jiménez outing was coming to an end.
Kyle Funkhouser entered the game, but he got Adell to ground out, Gosselin scoring from third. Unfortunately Brandon Marsh then smoked a line drive over Daz Cameron’s head for another triple, plating Walsh and Adell, and the Tigers’ lead was trimmed to two runs. Stassi struck out to end the threat.
The Angels came back for another run in the seventh. Funkhouser got the first out, but then walked Ohtani. David Fletcher lined out, but Gosselin lined a single to center. Lombard turned to Michael Fulmer with Funkhouser looking shaky, and Jared Walsh greeted him with a double to left that scored Ohtani before Fulmer was able to close out the inning.
Fulmer got into trouble of his own in the eighth. He struck out Adell, but like so many Tigers’ pitchers in this game, Fulmer kept digging himself a hole by falling behind hitters. He walked Marsh after a 10 pitch battle, and then quickly got himself into a 3-1 count against Stassi. Fulmer threw a reasonably well located fastball at the top of the zone, and Stassi climbed the ladder and roped the pitch into the Tigers bullpen. A 10-2 lead blown, the Angels had climbed all the way back on one of the more horrific performances by the Tigers’ bullpen this season.
But it wasn’t over. Fulmer allowed a double to Jose Iglesias, who promptly stole third on inattention, and scored on an Ohtani fly out. Ian Krol finally came on to get the final out of the inning. 12-10 Angels. The offense seemed to take the cue, as Schoop, Candy, and Cabrera all went quickly in order in the bottom of the eighth. Krol then allowed a solo shot to Gosselin in the top of the ninth to make it 13-10 Angels, and the Tigers had their last three outs to make a comeback. They put up no fight at all, going in order to complete this debacle.
Did I mention this was a horrific day for the Tigers’ bullpen? Worse they seemed to lose it mentally. The body language from the whole team was not great, and the mistakes just piled up. Possibly there were some issues working with a new, though experienced, catcher in Dustin Garneau, but there are no excuses for a performance this awful.
RIP to a Tigers’ legend
The baseball world lost a great one on Thursday, as Bill Freehan, catcher for the 1968 World Series champions, passed away at the age of 79. His friend and teammate, Jim Price, was in the booth for a lengthy remembrance that moved everyone to tears.