'Quiet in the clubhouse': Tigers waste 8-run lead as Angels complete sweep
Detroit — It was like watching a team get bled out.
The Tigers led 10-2 going into the sixth inning Thursday afternoon, poised to salvage one of three against the Angels. Instead, the Angels rallied for 11 runs in the final four innings, taking a most improbable and, for the Tigers, hard to swallow, 13-10 win at Comerica Park.
"This loss stings," said manager AJ Hinch, who was ejected in the fifth inning. "It's a bad loss. We were in control of the game and we couldn't end at-bats positively fast enough and they kept rolling their lineup around.
"We let this game get away from us. It's completely on us. We will move on, but it's a bad loss."
The winning blow was struck by Angels catcher Max Stassi off reliever Michael Fulmer in the top of the eighth, but by that point it felt almost inevitable, the game had been slipping away for three innings.
"We felt like we were in good control, but it got out of hand pretty quick," said Kyle Funkouser, one of three relievers victimized in a six-run sixth inning. "The bullpen in general didn't throw strikes, which was pretty uncharacteristic of how we've been the last couple of weeks.
"We've been pretty good at bouncing back, but I know this one really hurts. It's really quiet in the clubhouse right now."
Things began to veer off course in the fifth when Hinch earned his first ejection with the Tigers. He was tossed after arguing with crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt.
"It's unacceptable," Hinch said. "It had nothing to do with how the game all played out, but it was handled wrong at the beginning and it was handled wrong at the end."
Former Tiger Justin Upton had been arguing with home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, wanting a catcher’s interference call on a pitch that he appeared be trying to get out of the way of. Upton and an Angels manager Joe Maddon argued for a several minutes and then asked for a video review.
Rules allow a manager 20 seconds to ask for a review. In this case, the Angels’ dugout had at least three minutes to look at the video before asking for official review. Wendelstedt allowed the review, which reversed the original call and awarded Upton first base.
"They called it foul ball, which was a miss-call," Hinch said. "I don't blame Justin Upton for arguing and I don't blame Joe Maddon for coming out and having what should have been a brief discussion with the home plate umpire. We have a process."
Maddon told reporters after that he wasn't grandstanding or stalling. He came out thinking Upton was upset about the foul ball call, then found out it was catcher's interference.
But Hinch's beef wasn't with Maddon, it was with Wendlestedt, who was umpiring at second base.
"He came really late (to the argument)," Hinch said. "I don't know why they continued the conversation. Joe is right to come out, but we're icing the pitcher on a reviewable play, and there's a process put in place to speed up the game when there is a discrepancy on a call like this."
After more than three minutes, Hinch said he came out to tell Wendelstedt that he was wrong and then headed back to the dugout.
"When I was past the line going to the dugout, he kept screaming that it was bull(crap) that I was putting it on him and then he tosses me out of the game," Hinch said. "And that is the definition of bull(crap).
Then came an eye-piercing six-run top of the sixth inning. The Angels strung together six hits, only one hit hard, and scored six runs off relievers Derek Holland and Joe Jimenez.
Jimenez allowed an infield single and then walked in two runs in the three batters he faced. Before acting manager George Lombard could remove him from the game, Wolcott ejected him.
The big hit of the inning was a two-run triple by Brandon Marsh, after the Tigers failed to turn a double-play. It was a line drive to center off Funkhouser, but Daz Cameron, just activated off the injured list before the game, got an extremely late break on it and couldn't recover.
"Everything just kind of speeds up," Funkhouser said. "Derek gives up some soft hits and it's bases-loaded. Joe's got to get hot quick and he had a tough one. I get out there quick and I don't throw great. There's a trickle-down effect.
"We set it up for them, but they got the hits."
The Angels made it 10-9 in the seventh. After Funkhouser walked Shohei Ohtani and gave up a two-out single to Phil Gosselin, Jared Walsh ripped a double off Michael Fulmer.
Fulmer struck out Jo Adell to start the seventh, but he walked Marsh after a 10-pitch battle. He didn't seem to have much in the tank after that. Stassi lined his home run into the corner in left.
Fulmer gave up a double to Jose Iglesias and then allowed him to steal third without a throw. Iglesias scored on a sacrifice fly by Ohtani.
Gosselin finished it off with a solo homer off Ian Krol in the ninth.
This one might leave a mark on the Tigers. Getting swept at home by the Angels in the midst of all the excitement of Miguel Cabrera's 500-home run chase, blowing an eight-run lead — hard to flush that with a series in Toronto looming.
"I hope we have a mature approach about it," Funkhouser said. "Reset on the flight tonight and be ready tomorrow."
Cabrera, though No. 500 is still pending, ignited a fast seven-run start for the Tigers.
He had an RBI single up the middle in the first and then cleared the bases with a three-run double down the right field, highlighting a five-run second inning. His career hit total is now 2,954.
Jeimer Candelario (his 10th), Zack Short (sixth) and Willi Castro (ninth), homered. But all the fun stopped around the sixth inning.