Tigers pitchers shelled in blowout loss to Angels
Anaheim, Calif. — What any Angels player or fan most craves during tough times is a visit from a friend. The Tigers.
No matter how uninspiring they might be playing — and they've been flat as a tortilla in 2015 — the Angels always manage to shed any weary ways once Detroit gets to southern California, as happened again Thursday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, when the Angels clobbered the Tigers, 12-2.
The Angels are now 14-3 against the Tigers in their last 17 games in Anaheim. Since 2001, they are a frightfully cruel 44-16 when Motown's baseball ministers stop in Orange County to heal and offer support.
The Angels, of course, did it Wednesday against a rookie pitcher, Buck Farmer, who wouldn't have pitched had Justin Verlander not been on the disabled list and had the man who replaced Verlander, Kyle Lobstein, not joined Verlander on the DL last weekend.
Farmer, who was brought in this week from Triple A Toledo, was belted early — home runs by Albert Pujols and Matt Joyce — but pitched fairly comfortably until things came apart in the sixth, when the Angels scored three times to take a 7-1 lead.
"Not a complete loss," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who liked Farmer's fastball (94-95 mph), slider, and change-up combination. "He was a lot better (after the early homers). He has a chance to be a good pitcher."
Ausmus understands that his team's biggest problem, Farmer's bumpy start not withstanding, isn't pitching.
The Tigers too often can't score runs. At least, enough to make a game of it, as probably should have been the case against an Angels club that awakened Thursday to a 23-24 record and was at the bottom of the league's offensive charts.
Ausmus' troops, who got five hits, have now pushed six runs across the plate in their last four games. Somehow, they won two of those — earlier in the week against Oakland — but two runs weren't going to be of much help Thursday.
"We just didn't hit," Ausmus said in another of those quiet clubhouses that are the hallmark of a bad defeat. "Lack of offense is a recurring theme."
The Tigers scored once in the third on a single, a fielder's choice, back-to-back walks, and a hit batsman, who happened to be Miguel Cabrera, who took a C.J. Wilson pitch off the toe for a painful RBI.
They got another run in the ninth on a double by James McCann and Jose Iglesias' RBI double to right-center.
Otherwise, nothing. Not even on a night Wilson was donating five walks, in addition to hitting Cabrera, in the six innings he hung around.
Wilson was also lucky. Very lucky.
The Tigers nine times hit shots over the first five innings, most of which were turned into outs, ruining any chance at making Wilson pay for his walks and bruised batter.
"That's why I feel it have to turn eventually," Ausmus said. "Logic tells you eventually you've got to score more runs."
Given that the Angels took a quick lead and then piled on later, the Tigers were probably cooked even if they had managed to raise a rare scoreboard ruckus.
Three batters into the Angels first, Pujols pretty much iced the opener of the four-game series when he sent a Farmer slider on a line over the left-field fence for a 2-0 lead.
"I had him 1-and-2," said Farmer, speaking of the pitch-count, "and then the slider, I just hung it."
Joyce, the one-time Tigers prospect and outfielder, then led off the Angels second with a NASA-grade rocket into the right-field heavens to make it 3-0.
"It was up in the zone, middle of the plate," Farmer said of the fastball Joyce tore into. "I was trying to get it in there (inside) and it was in the middle.
"Up here they make you pay for mistakes, and I made a mistake to Joyce and a mistake to Pujols."
Following the early Pujols-Joyce bombs, it was fair to wonder whether Farmer, a 24-year-old rookie, would survive the game and the night minus grief counseling.
But the right-hander from Georgia Tech (2013 draft, fifth round) calmed down and kept the Angels from any deep destruction — until the sixth.
The Angels got three more runs in the sixth, all charged to Farmer, then tossed five more logs on the fire in the seventh, four of them coming on a grand-slam homer by Chris Iannetta that came courtesy of a pitch from Tom Gorzelanny.
The Tigers will try again Friday night against the Angels. Anibal Sanchez will attempt to do what not many pitchers have been able to do in the new millennium in southern California: Beat an Angels team that loves extending hospitality to its chums from Detroit.