Pujols, Santiago power LA Angels past slumping Tigers, 2-0
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Albert Pujols and Hector Santiago got off to rough statistical starts to the season despite solid work.
The slugger and the left-hander are finally getting the numbers to match their stellar performances.
Pujols had his 530th career homer among three hits, and Santiago pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning of the Los Angeles Angels’ 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Santiago (4-3) was finally rewarded for an impressive May, getting just his second victory in his last seven starts despite yielding only five earned runs in his last 33 1-3 innings. He has been hurt by some of the majors’ worst run support, but Santiago got everything he needed from Pujols, who scored both of Los Angeles’ runs.
”(The Tigers) have been tough on left-handed pitchers, but I guess I’m a different left-handed pitcher,” said Santiago, who struck out seven and walked three. ”Everything was working. I just go to their power, wherever they think their strongest spot is, and try to hit it.”
Pujols is surging after a slow start despite impressive contact on a near-nightly basis. The three-time NL MVP is 8 for 18 midway through a 10-game homestand, and his average is up to .250 after languishing below .200 in early May.
”It’s a long season, so I just try to stay positive all the time and have quality at-bats,” Pujols said. ”I can’t control when I hit the ball, how hard it goes, or how far I hit it, so some days I put myself in a good position to put a good swing on it. That’s all I can do for hopefully 600 at-bats.”
Huston Street got four outs for his 15th save, striking out Yoenis Cespedes with the bases loaded to end the eighth as the Angels nudged their record back above .500 (25-24).
Los Angeles has won the first two of its four games against Detroit, which has lost four straight at the Big A.
Santiago left with one out in the eighth after Jose Iglesias’ bloop single on his 111th pitch. Cam Bedrosian left one out later with the bases loaded, but Street made his first eighth-inning appearance of the season and fanned Cespedes on four pitches.
Anibal Sanchez (3-6) yielded six hits in seven strong innings, but the Tigers were shut out for the second time in five days.
Detroit has scored just six runs in its last five games while losing five of seven overall.
”Nothing is happening. We’re not hitting,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. ”It’s no secret, so we’ve got to try to do something on the bases and try to score somehow. It’s not lack of effort. It’s not lack of hard work.”
Pujols scored in the fourth when Ian Kinsler misplayed Matt Joyce’s bases-loaded grounder, which could have been turned into an easy inning-ending double play.
One pitch after he thought he had drawn a walk in the sixth, Pujols homered for the second straight game against Detroit, lifting a full-count pitch into the bullpens beyond the left-field fence for his 10th homer. He sits four homers behind Jimmie Foxx for 17th place on baseball’s career list.
”Eventually, we’re going to get out of this and we’re going to hit,” center fielder Rajai Davis said. ”Obviously this is not what we scripted, but it’s here, so we’ve just got to let this make us stronger and better.”
The Angels couldn’t use eighth-inning reliever Joe Smith after he woke up with a stiff neck, which forced Bedrosian into the game and required Street to go longer than normal. ”There’s just times during the season where you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone,” Street said. ”As a closer, your job is to get a save whenever a save opportunity presents itself.”
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera was back in the lineup after C.J. Wilson hit him in his surgically repaired right foot Thursday.
Angels: Erick Aybar sat out with a strained hamstring. The shortstop was injured Thursday, and the Angels are hoping he won’t be out long.
Tigers: Shane Greene (4-3, 4.27 ERA) goes after his third victory in four starts.
Angels: Jered Weaver (3-4, 4.06 ERA) goes after his fourth win in five starts to cap an impressive May.