Back-to-back homers by rookies save Detroit Tigers in 5-4 win over Los Angeles Angels

Detroit Free Press

Once again, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani crushed the Detroit Tigers.

But before it was too late, Kerry Carpenter and Ryan Kreidler did the same to the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s series finale at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. They pummeled solo home runs on fastballs from left-hander Jose Quijada.

Kreidler’s first MLB homer provided the winning run.

The Tigers won, 5-4, to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid a Southern California sweep. Left-handed closer Gregory Soto pitched a scoreless ninth, including strikeouts of Trout and Ohtani, and recorded his 25th save.

“It’s a good character win for us,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters in Anaheim. “Another game where we had to scratch and claw to get back in it. It didn’t feel like we had done enough. They come back with a big run at the end, and then we hit a couple homers in the ninth off their back-end guy. … After the way this week has started, it’s a nice win.”

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The Tigers (52-85) finished with four homers in the series — all on Wednesday afternoon — compared to nine Halos homers in the three-game set. Spencer Torkelson and Eric Haase also homered.

Haase went 5-for-5 with two singles, two doubles and one home run.

“I’ve been around a lot of good hitters that haven’t had (a five-hit game),” Hinch said.

To open the bottom of the ninth, Soto used his slide step and froze Trout with a 98 mph sinker for a called third strike. He battled with Ohtani for six pitches — all strikes, including four fouls — and struck him out swinging with a vintage down-and-away slider.

Luis Rengifo delivered a two-out single, and Taylor Ward worked a six-pitch walk to get the potential winning run on first, but Matt Duffy struck out on three pitches to end the game.

“There’s no easy inning for a closer who is trying to find his way and bounce back after a couple tough outings,” Hinch said. “He gets those two guys (Trout and Ohtani), and then Rengifo hits the base hit. That, for me, is where Gregory has gotten better at keeping his heart rate down and keeping his emotions in check.”

Quijada entered for the ninth, and the left-handed Carpenter sent his first pitch, a 92 mph fastball on the outside part of the plate, down the left-field line and inside the foul pole for his third MLB home run, tying the game.

Four pitches later, Kreidler — a right-hander — turned on an inside 94.1 mph fastball and hit a solo home run to center field. He hit the ball 408 feet, and the Tigers took a 5-4 lead.

The other big swings

Trout, for the third time in the three-game series, went deep, this time in the fifth inning against right-handed reliever Will Vest. The home run, his 32nd of the season, gave the Los Angeles Angels their third run.

Two innings later, Ohtani showcased his magic with his third home run of the series, a solo shot for his 33rd of the year, in the seventh off left-hander Andrew Chafin to make it 4-3, L.A.

Trout, who has homered in each of his past four games, went 2-for-4 with a single, home run, walk and two strikeouts; Ohtani struck out four times but homered in the fourth of his five at-bats. Since his Aug. 19 return from the injured list, Trout is batting .310 with eight home runs in 18 games.

The Tigers scored first in the fourth inning, when Torkelson held off on a curveball and a changeup outside the strike zone then jumped on a 91.4 mph fastball in the upper-outside corner of the zone.

He hammered it 434 feet to straightaway center with a 105.5 mph exit velocity. His solo home run, the first MLB homer for the 2020 No. 1 overall pick since July 3, put the Tigers ahead 1-0.

“Tork has done a nice job coming back in a very good mindset and great place physically with where his stance is, where his weight is and where his mind is,” Hinch said. “You get rewarded for that if you keep hitting the ball hard.”

Win, lose or Drew

Right-hander Drew Hutchison faced trouble in the first three innings, but he worked around those issues and entered the bottom of the fourth unscathed. A leadoff single from Taylor Ward jumpstarted the inning.

Hutchison retired the next two batters, but Matt Thaiss — playing in his 11th game this season — hit a big-league home run for the first time since 2020. The two-run homer pushed the Angels in front, 2-1.

“There were some long innings,” Hinch said. “Twenty pitches almost every inning. We didn’t play perfect behind him. I thought we cost him a couple hitters that drove his pitch count up, and they worked some walks in there.

“He gave us what he could. I got him out of there early, just based on how much work he had to do to get through four innings. It’s a hot day, close game. I wanted to turn it over to the bullpen, and those guys did a nice job.”

Escaping the fourth, though, didn’t lead to a fifth inning for Hutchison, as Vest replaced him after 84 pitches (53 strikes). The 32-year-old allowed two runs on five hits and two walks over four innings in his 14th start.

Facing Vest, Trout pounded a leadoff home run in the fifth for a 3-1 advantage. The Angels kept the pressure on Luis Rengifo’s double and Taylor Ward’s walk, both with one out. Vest responded by striking out Mike Ford and Jo Addell.

Rally time for the Tigers

The Tigers countered in the sixth and seventh innings.

Haase pulled a down-and-in cutter for a solo home run — reaching double-digit home runs in 2022 — in the sixth inning. Harold Castro drew a four-pitch walk, but Torkelson rolled over a 3-2 cutter beyond the outside edge and grounded into a double play. Candelario struck out swinging to end the sixth.

Another run scored in the seventh, which began with Carpenter’s leadoff double. After Kreidler grounded out, Willi Castro drove in Carpenter from second base with a one-out single to tie the game, 3-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ohtani put the Angels back on top with his solo shot.

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