The Tigers played like a team whose flight didn’t land until an hour before game time and got paddled by Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and the Angels generally on Monday night. In the process they were shutout for the 19th time this season, most for a Tigers team since 1976.
Tyler Alexander got into trouble right out of the gate in this one after the Tigers went 1-2-3 in the top of the first. With one out in the bottom half, Mike Trout singled to right and Shohei Ohtani followed with a double, moving Trout to third. Alexander got a pitch right in on Luis Rengifo’s hands, but he was able to muscle a blooper out into no man’s land in shallow left center field, and it dropped, scoring Trout. A soft ground out by Taylor Ward allowed Ohtani to score from third before Alexander cut things off by getting Matt Duffy to ground out to Báez to end the inning.
The second was quiet, with Spencer Torkelson drawing a two-out walk, and Alexander getting a pair of called third strikes for a quick bounceback inning.
In the top of the third, the Tigers had their first scoring opportunity. Ryan Kreidler ambushed an absolute meatball from Suarez, but just missed it, flying out to right center field. However, Victor Reyes chopped a one-hopper that ate up the third baseman Rengifo and scampered to second as the ball went down the line for a double. Riley Greene followed with a 110 mph rocket of a one-hopper right at Velazquez at shortstop, but the Angels infielder made a superb pick and threw out Greene with no trouble, Reyes moving to third. That left it up to Willi Castro who promptly popped out to end the inning.
In the bottom half, the dynamic duo was at it again. David Fletcher grounded back to Alexander to start the inning, but Trout ripped a double to left. Ohtani followed by crushing another pitch to right for a two-run shot just above the home run mark on the wall. 4-0 Angels. The hits kept coming Rengifo drove one to the warning track in center field. Riley Greene made a nice diving play and had it in his glove, but the ball came lose as he hit the dirt and Rengifo was in with a triple. A sac fly from Ward to center field brought him home, and it was 5-0.
Tantalizingly close to a “catch of the year” play by Riley Greene in deep center field, but the ball escaped his clutches for a triple for Luis Rengifo. pic.twitter.com/1XCkHLLZMw
— Adrian Garro (@adriangarro) September 6, 2022
Javier Báez and Eric Haase flailed their way to strikeouts to open the fourth, while Harold Castro grounded out. There was no help coming for Alexander, so we braced for more thunder from the Angels’ bats in the bottom half. And so of course the lefty tossed a quick 1-2-3 frame against the 8-9-1 hitters, getting Fletcher on a line out to Willi Castro in right to end the inning.
It was all the kids in the fifth, as Torkelson, Carpenter, and Kreidler were lined up to face Suarez in the inning. Tork got under a fly ball that was routine to right center. Carpenter lined one the opposite way, but Jo Adell was positioned right there to make the catch. Kreidler got down 0-2 and tapped one left of the pitcher’s mound. Suarez lost the handle as he threw and Kreidler reached as the ball went weakly toward Fletcher at second base. Finally Victor Reyes lined another one sharply, but right to Ward in right field.
Trout stayed back and crushed a changeup for his 30th home run of the year to left field to open the bottom of the fifth. Ohtani made good contact as well, ripping a drive to Torkelson at first for the first out of the inning. Alexander’s pitch count approached 80 as Rengifo then singled to right field. Báez made another error to allow Duffy to reach, and then Matt Duffy doubled over Castro’s head in right after he ran a bad route and had to go back at the last moment. That scored Rengifo and it was 7-0 as Alexander was mercifully lifted by A.J. Hinch, with Luis Castillo taking over to strike out Adell and get Max Stassi to fly out, ending the inning.
There weren’t any Tigers highlights, so let’s watch Trout mash for a moment.
Willi Castro singled with one out in the sixth, but Báez flailed at three straight changeups to strike out. Eric Haase, changing things up, flailed at three straight fastballs instead.
In the bottom half, Luis Castillo acquitted himself pretty well. He struck out Velazquez, got Fletcher to ground out, and then struck out Trout on a nasty slider after hitting him on a checked swing with the pitch prior.
Torkelson ripped an opposite field double in the top of the seventh, in one of the few bright spots on the night. He was stranded there, and Garrett Hill took over in the bottom half only to give up Ohtani’s 32nd homer and second on the night. A Taylor Ward single eventually led to a run after a walk to Duffy, and an RBI single from Stassi. 9-0 Angels.
Once again let’s remind ourselves what greatness looks like since we haven’t seen any of it since JV was traded.
Josh Lester got his first major league at-bat in the eighth, with Riley Greene on first after a walk, and two outs on the board. Lester whiffed on an Andrew Wantz fastball to strike out.
Kody Clemens came on to pitch in the bottom of the eighth, and that led to one moment of hilarity as he struck out Ohtani with a 68 mph eephus that dropped on the outer edge for strike three. He also allowed a run, but we won’t hold that against him.
The Tigers got a Harold Castro single in the ninth, and another hard hit ball from Tork, who lined out on a real screamer to center field. Clemens fittingly struck out himself to bring this one to a close.
Only 27 games left, folks. I can’t wait to be done with this season and to watch some quality baseball again in October.