DETROIT — Jacob Turner had auditions for his short-term and long-term future on Tuesday.
He failed both spectacularly in a 13-0 loss to the Angels.
With two weeks until the trade deadline and the Tigers in dire need of a consistent starter, Turner could have done one of two things with a strong outing against Los Angeles. He could have earned a rotation spot, or he could have made himself an attractive trade chip for another of Dave Dombrowski's last-minute deals.
Neither happened. It wasn't even close.
Turner lasted just two innings, allowing seven runs that included nearly a quarter-mile of homers by Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols.
"Obviously, I made some mistakes and they put some good swings on them," Turner said. "I don't think I need to make major changes. I just need to find a way to get pitches where I want them more often."
Turner wasn't kidding when he said that the Angels were getting good wood on his pitches. Although Pujols' homer was fairly routine, Trumbo's ball easily cleared the visitors bullpen in left-center and Trout hit a 430-foot shot that bounced onto the concourse above Sparky Anderson's retired number.
"I thought he made a few good pitches, but he was having trouble getting his breaking ball over and getting ahead in the count," catcher Alex Avila said. "It's tough to pitch like that, especially against a team like the Angels."
Turner has been Detroit's top prospect since he was selected ninth in the 2009 draft. The right-hander debuted with the Tigers just two years after turning pro and only a few weeks after his 20th birthday.
He's made five major league starts over the last two seasons and shown very little indication that he's ready for more than emergency duty. With Tuesday’s debacle, he's now 0-2 with a 9.15 ERA, even though all of his outings have come at spacious Comerica Park.
"I don't think there is any extra pressure pitching at the major league level, but there's a huge difference in the talent level," he said. "When you make a mistake in the big leagues, you are going to pay for it a lot more often than you do in the minors."
At 21, Turner still has plenty of time to develop into the pitcher Detroit has expected, but manager Jim Leyland agrees that his development needs to come at a different level.
Turner started this season with Class-A Lakeland while rehabbing a shoulder problem from spring training. After moving up to Triple-A Toledo, he posted a 4-2 record with a 3.16 ERA.
"Jacob has the potential to be a top starter, and I expect that he'll be high in someone's rotation someday," Leyland said. "But he's not ready right now. He doesn't have the seasoning that he needs to be successful.
"We were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle (Tuesday), but I really didn't expect that. I didn't expect this, either, but we were just hoping he could have given us five or six innings in a close game."
Leyland wouldn't comment on who will start Sunday against the White Sox — the next time that Turner's spot comes up in the rotation.
For the good of Turner's career and the good of the pennant race, it's probably best that it be someone else.
BOMB THREAT NO. 3
For the third time in recent days, a bomb threat was made against a busy Detroit landmark — this time, Comerica Park.
According to a report on WXYZ’s website, a threat was called into 9-1-1 around 8 p.m., well after the Angels had taken their early big lead — Los Angeles scored four in the first inning and three runs in the second.
Unlike the earlier incidents, where the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge were closed for several hours, the game proceeded without interruption.
The Tigers released the following statement late Tuesday: "Situation was handled by the DPD and local authorities. Since this is under their jurisdiction any further information would have to come from the DPD."
The Detroit News reported that Inspector Don Johnson of Homeland Security, along with other police and park security, searched Comerica, but no suspicious device was found.
ONCE EVERY YEAR
Lost in the Los Angeles hitting display –tying a season high with five homers — was that star prospect Garrett Richards and David Carpenter combined to shut the Tigers out on four hits.
Detroit hadn't been held scoreless in 367 days, dating back to a 9-0 loss to the White Sox on July 16, 2011. The streak, which ended at 158 games, was the longest in franchise history.
"Richards has a great arm and great talent, but he didn't have a great outing tonight," Leyland said. "He was all over the place, and I think we would have gotten to him if it had been a close game.
"He was able to relax when it was 7-0, though, and he was able to relax even more when they kept adding on runs."