Gardenhire leaves ill, bad inning foils light-hitting Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers shortstop Jordy Mercer loses the ball on a ground ball during the second inning on Tuesday.

Detroit — Daniel Norris initially blamed himself. 

He came in after the top of the third inning to see manager Ron Gardenhire's face swelling up and breaking out in hives.

"I said, 'Did I give you the hives watching me pitch?'" Norris said. "He said no. And then a couple innings later he came back and said, 'Probably.'"

Truth was, nothing about Norris' five innings of work in the Tigers' 5-2 loss to the Angels Tuesday was overly toxic. Gardenhire, though, had an allergic reaction and by the third inning had to be taken into the trainer's room and given medication.

BOX SCORE: Angels 5, Tigers 2

"What we know right now, he had an allergic reaction to something he ate or drank before the game," said bench coach Steve Liddle, who ran the team for the final six innings. "He started having some swelling, so the doctor took him upstairs and didn't let him come back down."

The medicine seemed to be working and Liddle said he expected Gardenhire to be back in the dugout Wednesday.

"Anytime you have a reaction like that you worry about the airway closing up," Liddle said. "But they say he's doing fine now. I am sure he will tell you all about it tomorrow."

Before the game, though, Gardenhire was in fine form. He was asked what he thought of when he saw the Angels.

“Heaven?” he said.

Well, sure, but in a baseball sense, when you think of the Angels you tend to think of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani. And, since it was his first game back at Comerica Park with his new team, former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was also a talking point.

More: 'Just keep blaming me': Brad Ausmus doesn't begrudge fans' ire

Pujols came into the night one RBI shy of becoming the fifth player in history to drive in 2,000 runs. He was looking to join Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Cap Anson.

“He was the premier power guy in the game for a long, long time,” Gardenhire said. “He was one of the most feared hitters I’ve managed against. He’s a real classy guy, loves the game of baseball, but he’s there to beat you, not just shake your hand.

“You were lucky if you had the opportunity to be on the same field with him.”

Aside from his 1,999 RBIs (No. 2,000 will have to wait another night), Pujols has also eclipsed 600 home runs and 3,000 hits.

“I played against Albert for a long time in the N.L. Central,” said Ausmus, who has now had the honor of managing Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. “He’s one of the greatest hitters ever to walk the planet, without question. For about 10 years he was the best. He was the Mike Trout of his time.

“Really, it went from Pujols to Cabrera to Trout. But Albert’s body of work is clearly the best.”

All those marquee names, and Angels rookie right-hander Griffin Canning, in his second big-league start, threatened to steal the show.

"We faced a kid tonight who was on his game," Liddle said. "He had a slider that the guys had a hard time picking up the rotation on. We weren't able to adjust until later on."

The only scratch the Tigers got off him over five innings was an infield single by Cabrera — a play that shortstop Andrelton Simmons makes nine out of 10 times.

A routine ground ball, Simmons' throw to first was over Pujols’ head at first.

Canning retired 14 of the next 15 Tigers, with seven strikeouts, before JaCoby Jones doubled to lead off the sixth. A triple by Nick Castellanos and a single by Cabrera made it a 4-2 game and knocked Canning out of the game.

That was the extent of the Tigers' offense.

"Just one of those games," Castellanos said. "We battled, competed, we were able to scratch out two runs. But anytime you face a pitcher you've never faced before, it's going to be tough."

They didn't fare any better against the Angels bullpen, with just one hit against a trio of Angels relievers. Luke Bard got five outs and Ty Buttrey worked a clean eighth inning. A one-out single by Niko Goodrum was the only mark against Hansel Robles in the ninth. 

Tigers hitters struck out 11 times.

All the damage against Norris came in a four-hit flurry in the third inning.

"It was one of those nights where I didn't really have it, but you grind and battle through it," Norris said.

Kole Calhoun, Zack Cozart and David Fletcher singled to start the inning. Norris got Trout to ground out to first. Ohtani drove Cozart home with a ground out before Simmons singled home Fletcher.

"My body wasn't synced up and I felt off a little bit," said Norris, who lasted five innings for the fourth straight start. "Just that one big inning I have to avoid. They were all singles but, I've got to make better pitches.

"I felt better in the fifth and it was nice to finish strong like that. But I put us in a hole and wouldn't come back from it. So, it's on me."

The Angels extended the lead to 4-0 against reliever Zac Reininger in the sixth. Brian Goodwin doubled against the shift and scored on a sacrifice fly by Calhoun.

Rookie Eduardo Jimenez, called up from Toledo on Sunday, made his Major League debut and worked a scoreless seventh. He allowed a double to Trout, and got a diving catch from third baseman Jeimer Candelario that took a possible RBI single away from Ohtani.

The Tigers gifted the Angels their fifth run in the top of the ninth. Lefty Jose Fernandez got the first two batters before walking Trout and Ohtani. Simmons then greeted Buck Farmer with an RBI single to left.

The Angels win breaks a seven-game losing streak at Comerica Park for Ausmus.

Twitter: @cmccosky