Tigers lose big in Smyly’s return to rotation
DETROIT (AP) — Drew Smyly’s return to the rotation was an inauspicious one.
The left-hander allowed four runs in three innings before being pulled Friday night in Detroit’s 11-6 loss to the Angels. Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen fared even worse, allowing seven runs as Los Angeles broke the game open.
"I felt pretty good, I just couldn’t put anyone away," Smyly said. "Any time I’d get ahead of someone, they would keep fouling off pitches and working the count, and then they’d find something they could hit. That’s a really good lineup, and they hammered everything I left over the plate."
Albert Pujols hit his 497th home run and Howie Kendrick added two of his own to lead the Angels, who chased Smyly (1-1) early and finished with 13 hits — 10 for extra bases. Kendrick hit two-run homers in the third and fourth, and Pujols lined a three-run shot to left field in the sixth to make it 11-1.
Jered Weaver (1-2) allowed a run and three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out three.
The Angels have won 10 straight against the Tigers, the longest active streak in the majors by one team over another.
Smyly allowed six hits in his first start since 2012. The Angels scored two runs each in the second and third, then pulled away with four off Putkonen in the fourth.
After excelling in the bullpen in 2013, Smyly is going to start for the Tigers this season, but his first two appearances of the year came in relief because Detroit didn’t need a fifth starter yet.
His first chance to start went badly. Smyly needed 82 pitches to get through three innings.
With the Angels already ahead 2-0, Pujols led off the third with a double and Kendrick followed with his first homer of the night. Putkonen came on the following inning and couldn’t quiet the Los Angeles bats.
After a two-run double by Mike Trout made it 6-1, Kendrick hit a two-out drive to right-center that was ruled a homer after a review. The ball appeared to glance off a rail above the wall.
"It’s tough to be upset with Luke, because he’s only pitched once all season, and then we had to throw him out there for three innings," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Putkonen didn’t get anyone out in his third inning of work and was taken out after Pujols’ fifth homer of the year. Afterward, Pujols demurred when asked about the 500-homer milestone.
"I don’t want to talk about that. Thank you," he said.
If the Tigers had been able to keep their deficit manageable, their five-run rally in the seventh would have been more significant. Josh Wall, called up from the minors before the game, relieved Weaver in the seventh and allowed five runs on four hits and a walk — without retiring a batter.
Ian Kinsler’s two-run single highlighted that rally, but second baseman John McDonald made a spectacular play to retire Victor Martinez, ranging to his left to make a sprawling stop, then rolling and throwing to first from his back. Alex Avila grounded out with runners on second and third to end the inning with the Angels still up by five.
With runners at first and second for Detroit and one out in the ninth, McDonald ended the game with a heads-up play. Don Kelly hit a soft flare toward the second baseman, and with the runners having to freeze, McDonald let the ball drop, tagged second for a force and then ran over and tagged Martinez between second and third for an unassisted double play.
Kinsler had three hits for the Tigers.
NOTES: Detroit RHP Justin Miller, called up before the game, pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut. … The Tigers haven’t beaten the Angels since Aug. 26, 2012. … Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (0-1) faces LHP C.J. Wilson (2-1) on Saturday.