Los Angeles — The weather was warmer Friday night, but the Tigers’ bats remained cold, losing 5-1 to the Dodgers in their first game in Chavez Ravine since 2014.
It was their sixth straight loss.
The lone run came in the third on a two-out single by Javier Baez. It was the only inning the Tigers strung together more than one hit.
“We didn’t put two positive-results at-bats together except for when Robbie Grossman walked and Baez hit the bullet to right-center,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We had a hard time piecing together positive at-bats, which is a tribute to their pitching and a little bit of our chasing pitches.”
That third inning could have yielded more for the Tigers, but for a runner’s interference call on Derek Hill that nullified a bunt single.
“He ran on the grass,” Hinch said. “You can’t run on the grass and give the umpires an opportunity to make the call. It’s a horse-(s—) rule, but it’s a rule.”
Playing from behind against the Dodgers is a loser’s game. The Tigers were down 5-1 when starter Tyler Anderson handed the ball off to the bullpen. The Tigers managed one hit off four Dodgers relievers — Evan Phillips, Phil Bickford, Brusdar Graterol and Reyes Moronta.
“We have a lot of things to get better at to get where we want to get,” Hinch said. “This is a tough stretch for us. It’s not a lot of fun right now. But we’ll keep at it.”
Tigers lefty starter Tyler Alexander isn’t having a lot of fun right now either. He suffered an early KO for the third straight start.
“That’s the worst part about being a starter,” said Alexander, who gave up two, two-out home runs and didn’t survive the third inning. “Now I have to wait six days with the off-day Monday before I can go out and compete again. It sucks.”
He only faced 12 batters Friday, giving up three hits and two walks. He’s walked five in 12.1 innings this season, which is most uncharacteristic. All three homers he’s allowed this season came with two outs. Two home runs in one game — that was the first time he’s given up multiple homers in a game in 15 starts.
“That’s a momentum offense and when you give them a little momentum, they capitalize on it,” Hinch said.
Alexander walked left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman in the first inning. He compounded that by ignoring Freeman at first base. Freeman got a running lead and stole second easily. After Trea Turner flew out to the wall in left, Alexander got two fast strikes with fastballs on Justin Turner.
He tried to throw another one, a four-seam fastball up, and probably out of the zone, but it stayed letter-high and Justin Turner hammered it into the seats in left.
With two outs in the second inning, Chris Taylor ambushed a first-pitch cutter and hit it 441 feet over the wall in left-center.
“I thought I threw the ball well in the short time I was out there,” Alexander said. “But they put some good swings on some good pitches. I made a mistake on Turner in the first but other than that, the hits I gave up were on pretty decent pitches.”
Tigers’ pitchers on the night walked four Dodger batters and three scored. Alexander walked Mookie Betts in the third and he ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Trea Turner.
Alexander was at 47 pitches, but Hinch took him out with Turner coming back up.
“I think AJ was just tired of watching me give up runs,” Alexander said. “I was too. But I didn’t have a say in that.”
Said Hinch: “We can’t afford 6-1 at that point — 4-1 felt like a pretty difficult hill to climb. So I had the matchup with Wily Peralta. We’re trying to win the game.”
Peralta struck out Turner and got out of the inning. He walked Will Smith to start the fourth and Smith came around to score — albeit an unearned run.
With runners at first and second and two outs, Peralta got Betts to hit a ground ball to the left of third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Candelario not only couldn’t backhand the ball, he ended up screening shortstop Javy Baez.
The ball rolled through Baez allowing Smith to score. Baez was charged with the error.
Trea Turner drew a walk off reliever Alex Lange in the seventh. He didn’t score, but the walk extended his on-base streak to 38 games, dating back to Sept. 12 last year.
The Tigers’ bullpen continued its solid work, allowing only the unearned run over five innings.
Right-hander Will Vest struck out four in his two innings of work. He gave up a two-run homer to Kansas City’s Hunter Dozier on April 16. In his other six outings, he’s pitched 7.2 scoreless with nine strikeouts.
Lange and Andrew Chafin each pitched a scoreless inning.
Hinch was asked if it was a helpless feeling for a manager when the offense goes cold like this.
“We’re not helpless,” he said. “We got beat but we’re not helpless. We’ve got a lot of games and we’ve got a lot to do. But if you start feeling helpless after 19 games, you’ve got to find a new job.”