The Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers have both fallen out of the pennant race with terrible summers.
That doesn’t mean Angels manager Mike Scioscia thought Saturday’s 10-1 win was meaningless.
Scioscia was pleased with the performance of Scott Kazmir, who allowed one unearned run in five innings in his return from the disabled list.
”We’re talking about a guy that, if he pitches to his potential, will be a Cy Young candidate,” Scioscia said. ”This season hasn’t gone as scripted, but he has never given up, and you saw that again tonight.”
Kazmir (8-9) had lost four straight starts before being sidelined July 10 with shoulder fatigue. Against Detroit, he gave up three hits and a walk, striking out three as the Angels clinched their first road series victory since June 16-18 against the Cubs.
”It felt really good to go out there, pitch five innings and feel like I was able to work my stuff,” he said. ”I’ve got better strength and range of movement in my shoulder, and I also worked on some mechanical stuff while I was out. I think tonight was a combination of all that.”
Scioscia told Kazmir before the game that he would only go five innings, which worked out well.
”By the time I got to the fifth inning, I was starting to drag a bit,” he said. ”It’s been a while since I’ve thrown 75 pitches, but I’ll be stronger for my next start.”
The Tigers have lost four straight and seven of eight.
”Don’t take anything away from Kazmir, because he was very good, but we are making a lot of pitchers look very good right now,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. ”It is tough what we are going through right now, but that is part of the game.”
They got only 4 1/3 innings out of Jeremy Bonderman (6-7), who allowed four runs on four hits and four walks while pitching on three days of rest.
The Angels broke open a 2-1 game with five runs in the fifth, taking advantage of sloppy pitching and fielding. Bobby Abreu led off with a walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Alberto Callapso’s single.
Brad Thomas replaced Bonderman, but walked Hideki Matusi before allowing an RBI double to Maicer Izturis, making it 4-0. Eddie Bonine didn’t have any more success, giving up a walk and Mike Napoli’s RBI single.
Bonine appeared to be out of the inning when Bobby Wilson grounded to shortstop Ramon Santiago, but he juggled the ball and then threw wildly to first while trying to complete the double play, allowing two runs to score.
”I thought Bondo did a great job – he worked his fanny off, and I was proud of him,” Leyland said. ”Our bullpen just didn’t get things shut down.”
Abreu led off the game with a double. Bonderman retired the next two batters, but walked Matsui and Izturis before Juan Rivera lined a two-run single to left-center.
The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Austin Jackson singled off Kazmir’s glove and advanced to second when the pitcher threw wildly to first. Kazmir then threw a wild pitch, putting Jackson on third before he scored on Ryan Raburn’s groundout.
Napoli added a two-run double in the seventh, making it 9-1, and Erick Aybar homered in the eighth.
”Obviously, we had a pretty good offensive night,” Scioscia said. ”Izzy was great, and so was Mike Napoli. We had a lot of guys helping us score runs tonight.”
Notes: Torii Hunter was a late scratch from the Angels lineup when he received a four-game suspension for his outburst Friday night. Hunter, who threw a bag of balls onto the field after being ejected, chose not to appeal the suspension. … The Angels placed reliever Rich Thompson (shoulder) on the disabled list to make room for Kazmir. … Callaspo got a single in the eighth inning after second-base umpire Tom Hallion ruled that RF Brennan Boesch had trapped his sinking liner. Replays, though, showed that Boesch caught the ball cleanly.