The Tigers, and west coast trips, do just not agree. Jose Ureña struggled again, the Tigers were carved up by a resurgent Alex Cobb, and they’ll now have to take both games on the weekend to split the series as they went down hard, 11-3 in Anaheim.
In each of the first two innings, the Tigers got multiple runners on base, but simply could not capitalize on anything. The Angels got on the board when Ureña walked Max Stassi, wild pitched him to second, and after punching out Jose Iglesias, surrendered an RBI single to Kean Wong. A walk to Justin Upton in the third inning also produced a run when Taylor Ward doubled with two outs. More than anything, Ureña just has not had the good slider we saw in April since his return from a forearm issue.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were having few good at-bats against Cobb. He retired 11 straight through the middle innings, and the Tigers didn’t have a baserunner after the second until Jonathan Schoop reached on an error in the sixth. They simply could not lay off the splitter. Even when they guessed right on fastballs they weren’t able to do any damage. About the only positive was that the Tigers were at least patient enough early to drive up Cobb’s pitch count.
Still, the Angels bullpen is pretty suspect, and the Tigers have shown plenty of fight over the past six weeks, so things didn’t seem particularly dire until the fifth. Ureña allowed a solo shot to Luis Rengifo to make it 3-0 Angels, and things started getting pretty shaky. A Justin Upton single with one out brought Shohei Ohtani to the plate and after a six pitch battle, a sinker that was pretty well located on the inner edge was absolutely scorched over the wall in right field. Pretty nice piece of hitting. That ended Ureña’s night, and shortly thereafter, the Tigers hopes of a comeback.
Ureña walked Taylor Ward after Ohtani’s shot and was lifted for Bryan Garcia. The righthander just doesn’t have the stuff to get whiffs without pinpoint command, and he didn’t have it here. Garcia threw ball one, and then tried to drop a changeup in for a strike. Instead, Jared Walsh turned and hammered it into the stands in right, and the Angels had a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers finally broke through in the sixth, with their disciplined early at-bats paying dividends as Cobb topped 110 pitches in the sixth. Schoop reached on the aforementioned error, advancing to second in the process. Jeimer Candelario grounded out to move Schoop to third, and in an 0-2 hole, Miguel Cabrera scorched a splitter left in the middle of the plate to the wall in right field to get the Tigers on the board. That ended Cobb’s night. Chris Rodriguez came on to face clean up hitter Eric Haase and got a routine fly ball to center field to squash any hope of a big inning.
And that was about all she wrote, as the Tigers bullpen remains even more suspect. Daniel Norris came on and immediately gave up a single to Phil Gosselin and then a Juan Lagares double. The lefty punched out Rengifo and quickly had Justin Upton 0-2 with a pair of riding fastballs up, and then inexplicably went with a slider instead of a fastball up and in or a changeup away. Even worse, he failed to bury it and Upton rapped a sharp ground ball through the left side of the infield to plate Gosselin. Norris punched out Ohtani to set himself up to escape with little damage but instead Taylor Ward ripped a double into left center field to score Lagares and Upton.
If the Tigers had anyone to call up, particularly a lefty, Norris’s job would be on thin ice at this point. The number of scoreless appearances is fine, but the propensity to blow up for a big inning just isn’t viable much longer. With the veteran lefty bound for free agency and holding the right to refuse any assignment, he’s going to have to pull it together with a lengthy stretch of scoreless appearances quickly.
The Tigers put up another run in the seventh as Akil Baddoo lined a single to right to leadoff the inning. Nomar Mazara walked and Willi Castro lined one into center field to score Baddoo and set them up with their last chance to get back in the game. Robbie Grossman and Schoop grounded out to smother the nascent rally.
Harold Castro took over in the seventh as Niko Goodrum was lifted for a sprained finger he suffered diving for a ball. Initially it looked like a wrist injury. There’s a pretty good chance he hits the injured list. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to clear his head at the plate either.
Niko Goodrum left tonight’s game with a left hand finger sprain.
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) June 19, 2021
Buck Farmer pitched around a hit batter in the seventh. Joe Jiménez got two quick outs in the eighth and then surrendered a solo blast to Ohtani, his 21st on the year. It was a hanging changeup, but man the guy is outrageously talented. Jiménez allowed another single but struck out Jared Walsh to close out the Tigers bullpen work for the night.
Harold Castro walked to lead off the ninth, and Mazara followed by rifling a ball through the shift. Willi Castro struck out, but Robbie Grossman grounded out to plate Harold before Schoop grounded out to finally end it.
RHP Wily Peralta will make his debut in the Tigers’ rotation on Saturday night against lefty Patrick Sandoval.