Tigers throttle Angels' offense again
Tigers throttle Angels' offense again
DETROIT – The game-time temperatures at Comerica Park this week ranged from 100 degrees down to 69. But it was the Angels' offense that ran hot and cold.
After scoring 19 runs on 29 hits (including six home runs) in the first two games of their four-game series in Detroit, the Angels' offense was tamed by the Tigers, managing just three runs on six hits in the final two games including a 5-1 loss Thursday afternoon.
More important, the Angels overall have most definitely cooled off. After a two-month run got them back into contention, they have been running in place over the past 20 games (10 victories, 10 losses). And now, five losses on the seven-game road trip that started the second half of the schedule have dropped the Angels six games back of the Rangers (the largest deficit this month) just in time to face the first-place Rangers seven times in the next 13 games.
"We need to start playing to our potential like we did before the break and the wins will be there for us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, dismissing (as is his staunch principle) any talk of the looming showdowns with the Rangers. "We need to get back into our game and it's a good time to start. We need it.
"We've hit a bump in the road."
That's about all they hit the past two games.
Doug Fister and Joaquin Benoit combined on a three-hitter in a 7-2 Detroit victory Wednesday night during which the Angels got just two baserunners past first base (the two that scored). In Thursday's game, Tigers starter Max Scherzer and two relievers combined on another three-hitter. While striking out nine, Scherzer also walked four in seven innings, but the Angels went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and only scored on Mike Trout's solo home run in the sixth. That extended Trout's streak of consecutive games with a run scored to 11, two short of matching the club record set by Jim Edmonds in 1995.
"Fister was more of a finesse guy who located really well, kept us off-balance a number of ways," Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo said of Fister's 10-strikeout performance Wednesday. "Today – that was filthy. There wasn't a whole lot to be had today. He was throwing in the upper 90s with two other legitimate pitches. He had a good changeup going today and you had to respect that.
"He struck me out one time with that (in the fourth inning). It just fell off the table. And he got me with a 96-mph fastball (in the first inning). You gotta pick one or the other. He throws too hard to try to sit in the middle. ... The way Scherzer was throwing, I don't think anyone would have done too much today. So it's a little easier to forget that one. Chalk it up to him getting it done and us having to wear it."
While Fister and Scherzer were making the Tigers' need to find pitching help before the July 31 trade deadline look less urgent, the Angels' sense of urgency might be growing. Right-hander Jerome Williams turned in his second unimpressive start since returning from the DL and fifth overall.
Williams allowed five runs on nine hits in his six-plus innings and is now 0-5 with a 7.53 ERA and at least five runs allowed in each of his past five starts.
"Terrible," Williams said when asked to evaluate his start Thursday. "I have to do what I have to do, and I haven't been doing that lately. I haven't been pounding the (strike) zone. I haven't been controlling counts, for the most part. I have to get back to where I was, and that's pound the zone, throw the ball down in the zone and get control of counts."
Other than Jered Weaver, none of the Angels' starters has really been doing what he has to do. Over the past 20 games, Angels starting pitchers have a 5.35 ERA, giving Scioscia something much more serious to worry about than the two-game offensive outage.
"You know, our starters just before the break started struggling with some stuff," Scioscia said after Thursday's loss. "Weave is obviously pitching well. C.J. (Wilson) has given us a couple good looks here and there. Ervin (Santana) did a couple nights ago. But outside of that, we're just not getting the ball to a certain point in the game.
"Sure, it's tough lineups to go against. They're going to drive the ball. Mistakes a lot of times don't come back because they hit them a long way. But as Garrett (Richards) showed a couple nights ago if you make pitches you're going to get guys out. We need to kind of catch our breath here. We just haven't played well coming out of the break and we need to get back into our game."
The schedule offers no respite. Seventeen of the Angels' first 26 games after the break are on the road with stops to each of the division leaders (New York, Texas and Chicago) plus two revived contenders (Boston and Detroit) . Only one team on that 26-game docket (the Royals next week) has a losing record.