Another lefty drops Tigers, who lose series to Angels
Detroit — When we get around to doing the autopsy on the 2016 Tigers season, one of the bigger mysteries will be why a team loaded with proven right-handed hitters had such little success against left-handed starting pitching.
“I really couldn’t give you an explanation,” manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday, after the Tigers were blanked on two hits over six innings in a 5-0 loss by Angels’ lefty Tyler Skaggs. “I don’t think there is one, quite frankly. If you’d ask me in May, I would have said it’s an anomaly. But we’re almost to September.”
The Tigers scored 25 runs in a three-game sweep of the Twins in Minnesota. They came home and lost two of three to the lowly Angels, managing just six runs against a team that’s given up the second-most runs in the American League.
Despite the loss, the Tigers remain 4.5 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians, who were defeated 2-1 by the Rangers Sunday.
“It’s frustrating,” catcher James McCann said. “It’s one of those things where we probably don’t feel like we took care of business like we should have. Baseball is a funny game. Anyone can win on any day.”
The Tigers, a lineup with 24 All-Star appearances and 11 Silver Slugger Awards, are now 19-20 against left-handed starters this season. They are hitting .256 against them with a .748 OPS. Against right-handers, they are hitting .271 with a .770 OPS.
“I wish I knew,” Victor Martinez said, “so that we could get better.”
Skaggs before Sunday had allowed 15 runs in 12 innings in his previous three starts. But the only Tiger that could hit him was Miguel Cabrera, who had a single and double, He was the only Tigers baserunner to reach third base the entire game.
“You know what, they’re in the big leagues for a reason,” Martinez said. “That’s why you don’t take anything for granted. It doesn’t mean we’re taking things for granted … But you just never know what’s going to happen.”
Skaggs had the Tigers swinging feebly at his change-up, which he was throwing off a high, fastball between 93-95 mph.
“He’s a guy that’s over the top,” Martinez said of Skaggs’ arm angle. “He has a pretty good (change-up) and he was throwing fastball a little high. They were a little tough to lay off, especially after he shows you that (change-up).”
The Tigers didn’t do anything against a trio of right-handed relievers, either. Mike Morin, Jose Valdez (former Tiger) and Deolis Guerra worked the final three innings and allowed just two hits.
“You don’t want to lose a series at home, regardless of who it is,” Ausmus said. “But when it’s a team that’s been struggling, you hope you can take advantage. Unfortunately, it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them.
“And when you catch them when they are pitching or hitting well, it doesn’t matter what their record is.”
Tigers’ starter Anibal Sanchez kept the game scoreless through four before faltering.
Another former Tiger, third baseman Jefry Marte, hit a two-run homer in the fifth. It was his second home run off Sanchez this season.
Sanchez then surrendered three straight singles to start the sixth. Mike Trout, who had been hitless in the series, started it with a hard ground ball off the glove of shortstop Jose Iglesias. Albert Pujols followed with a bloop into right-center field.
Cameron Maybin made a diving attempt and appeared to make the catch. Trout went back to first, but Pujols was adamant the ball was dropped and didn’t leave the base.
The Angels challenged and the call was overturned. Trout was awarded second base.
Sacrifice flies by Andrelton Simmons and Marte made it 4-0. Southfield native Nick Buss plated the fifth run with a double, ending Sanchez’s day.
“I tried in that last inning to contain the score; I tried to keep the score right there,” said Sanchez, who is 7-13. “I got a ground ball to shortstop. Iggy's got pretty good hands, but he's human. He doesn't usually miss a ground ball like that. Same with the fly ball by Pujols. The rest of the inning, you saw it — two fly balls and a line drive on the line and everything changes.
“A couple of little things made the score one way."
The Angels, 56-74 on the season, are 23-6 in the last 29 games against the Tigers.
“It’s the big leagues,” Justin Upton said. “Every team is capable of beating anybody on any given night. We got beat twice.”