Angels 7 Tigers 5
Fresh off getting decimated by a hot Oakland team, the Angels came back to the Big A with no momentum while the Tigers visited with all of it. The kitties came into the series having also whipped out the brooms against the Kansas City Royals and looked to continue their success against a team that had just had its back broken by three consecutive come-from-ahead losses.
Shohei Ohtani was not having any of it on Angels Reopening Night. After a wobbly first, he buckled down and made it look easy. Despite having thrown 25 pitches before recording his 3rd out, Ohtani ended up completing 6 innings with 1 run allowed (a Jonathan Schoop solo shot) on an incredibly efficient 78 pitches.
The Tigers managed to help him out by making some aggressive baserunning moves that wound up backfiring on them in a big way. Two of these situations heavily involved Michigan Left Fielder Akil Baddoo.
In the top of the second, Baddoo launched a ball to the wall and tried to head for third. A perfect relay would erase the threat.
Later, with the game 2-1 in the 7th, the Tigers had a runner on third with only 1 out. Tony Watson managed to turn this Akil Baddoo grounder into a headache for Detroit fans.
This was obviously going to be the story of a close match a young MVP candidate and Matt Manning’s excellent rookie debut until both teams decided to turn to their firemen. Or perhaps a better term would be “arsonists.”
If you blinked or showered or got a phone call anytime around the middle of the 7th inning, you might have missed the final score changing. 9 pitches after the top half of the inning changed, Taylor Ward did something he’d never done before.
Please hold your applause, because we still had to see Angel pitching that was not Ohtani for two more innings. This time, it was Mike Mayers who elected to be absolutely useless. 4 consecutive baserunners reached before he was pulled in favor of closer Raisel Iglesias. The damage was limited to an additional 2 runs, marking a substantial improvement over what we had experienced the last 3 games when feces were flung at the fan.
The Angels have now won 7 straight if you’re good at make-believe and can pretend the A’s don’t exist. They are a mere 5.5 games back plus the 3 they blew in grand, heart-breaking fashion. Tomorrow, an Alex Cobb who has had pretty poor results in his last couple starts will be on the mound against a Jose Ureña who has been just as bad. Look forward to taking the over.
-Photo credit to Jeff Spigner