Daz Cameron homers in front of dad, but Detroit Tigers ‘haven’t outgrown mental mistakes’

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

Daz Cameron delivered an early Father’s Day present in Anaheim on Saturday.

With his father, former major leaguer Mike Cameron, watching from field level seats, the young Detroit Tigers center fielder smacked his second career home run.

“For me to hit that homer was something exciting for me,” he said. “I’m sure we’re going to be talking about it tonight sometime. … This is the first time he came to a game and saw me play. I’m sure it’s one of those experiences we’ll never forget.”

As for the rest of the teammates, they’ll try to forget about this weekend as fast as they can board the plane Sunday. They’ve dropped the first three games of the four-game series to the Los Angeles Angels (36-35) by a combined score of 26-11.

In their 8-3 loss Saturday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Tigers batters struck out 13 times and their pitchers surrendered eight extra-base hits.

Over the past three games, the Tigers (29-42) have whiffed 31 times, mostly flailing at pitches out of the strike zone. The Angels’ starter Saturday, Patrick Sandoval, racked up nine strikeouts in 5⅔ innings, seven on changeups.

“He spun the ball more than he had in his previous outing. We also chased a tremendous amount,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Credit the pitcher or just the lack of execution on our part, whatever way you look at it. He was able to get some swings out of the zone based on the effectiveness of his other pitches.”

Wily Peralta, called up from Triple-A Toledo earlier in the week, made his first major-league start since 2017 and gave up five runs in five innings. That included a four-run third in which Shohei Ohtani smashed his third homer in two nights. This one traveled 415 feet to the opposite field.

“Ohtani can do so much on the field,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen it over the last few games. He can hit any pitch at any point out of any part of the ballpark. That’s why he’s special.”

Peralta grinded through two more innings without giving up another run but the damage was done.

“It didn’t go the way that I wanted today,” he said. “I want to perform better. It’s just one start. I feel very confident I’ll be better for the next one.”

The most troubling aspect of the weekend series has been Tigers’ sloppiness and mental breakdowns. It cropped up several times Saturday.

Prior to Ohtani’s homer, David Fletcher went from first to third on a foul out behind home plate.

Fletcher strayed off the bag after Jake Rogers caught Justin Upton’s popup, then took off for second as Rogers casually tossed the ball back to Peralta.

Peralta wheeled around and bounced the throw, allowing Fletcher to reach third.

In the sixth inning, Cameron tried to make a diving catch on an Upton liner but it landed in front of him. Cameron picked up the ball and tried to throw out Upton at second but no one bothered to cover the bag.

In the eighth with runners on the corners, Upton took off for second as Joe Jimenez looked in for the sign. Jimenez turned and bounced the throw to second, allowing Upton to easily steal the bag while Fletcher scooted in from third.

“What tonight showed is we haven’t outgrown some of the mental mistakes that come with the pressure-style of play that we’re trying to instill ourselves,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen us do this to other teams but we didn’t respond very well to the pressure they put on us. … We’ve got a lot of work to do to get better.”

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