Hunter homers, scores go-ahead run in Halos' win
The Los Angeles Angels had the perfect remedy for a very difficult couple of weeks: a home win.
Torii Hunter tied the game with a solo homer and scored the go-ahead run on Gary Matthews Jr.'s two-out double in the eighth inning, helping the Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Tuesday night.
The Angels returned home following a 1-5 road trip to Seattle and Minnesota, still grieving over the death of rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart. Along with two friends, Adenhart died in a collision with a suspected drunken driver during the first week of the season.
"It's obviously an emotional team right now, and I don't know if there's a better situation to go out and have an emotional win," Matthews said. "It was not a bad time to do it, with us having such a tough road trip. We've got some fire and passion and emotion right now. Hopefully we can point it all in the right direction."
Hunter drew a leadoff walk in the eighth from reliever Brandon Lyon (1-2), then advanced to second on Kendry Morales' flyout. One out later, Matthews - starting in right field for the injured Vladimir Guerrero - lined an 0-1 pitch off the center-field fence and clapped his hands emphatically as he reached second base.
"I'm definitely not trying to show up anyone, because I'm not like that. But you've got all this pent-up emotion," Matthews said. "This is something few teams have had to deal with. So when you get a big hit, sometimes it spills out. You try so hard to control your emotions and keep them on an even keel because it's a long season - and I'm not an outwardly emotional person, anyway. But there was a big crowd at home, and we wanted to get the win really bad."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia got irritated several times at plate umpire Tim Timmons after called strikes against Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu and Mike Napoli. Scioscia was ejected by Timmons after Napoli took a first-pitch strike leading off the sixth for objecting from the dugout.
"Tim Timmons is a good ump, but I thought his strike zone was a little liberal - both up and at the corners," Scioscia said. "I guess he got tired of hearing it, and that was that. But we got it done."
The balloons, candles, teddy bears and baseball caps that helped form a makeshift memorial to Adenhart in front of Angel Stadium during the previous homestand have been left intact, and will remain that way the rest of the season. Only the flowers and other perishable items were removed by ballpark personnel while the team was away.
The AL West champion Angels, 4-8, returned to a clubhouse where Adenhart's locker remains untouched.
"They're an outstanding baseball team, and there's no question they're definitely going to come out of it because they compete too good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I would still say that they're the odds-on favorite to win their division because they can do it a lot of different ways. And their manager's tremendous."
Leyland has a pretty good idea of what Scioscia is dealing with. Leyland managed Darryl Kile when they were with the Colorado Rockies in 1999, and was an advance scout with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002 when Kile was found dead in his Chicago hotel. He died of a coronary artery blockage.
"I think the toughest part is that, if you try to turn the page and go on, I think sometimes we get a guilt complex about maybe not feeling as sorry as we're supposed to," said Leyland, who chatted with Scioscia during batting practice after leaving a message on his phone. "You never want to be disrespectful - but at the same time, you do have to go on. So it's really a catch-22."
Jose Arredondo (1-0) pitched a hitless eighth inning for the win and Brian Fuentes got three outs for his third save.
Scioscia figured the Angels were in good shape having Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders start the first two games of this series before having to scramble to find a pitcher for Thursday. But Weaver gave up a run in each of the first three innings, including both homers by Curtis Granderson on 1-1 counts.
The first one went to center field, the second to right-center. The multihomer game was Granderson's second in the majors and first since Sept. 29, 2006, against Kansas City's Runelvys Hernandez.
Matthews trimmed Detroit's lead to 3-2 in the third with a sacrifice fly, and Hunter tied it in the fifth with his fifth homer.
Weaver was charged with three runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking none. Galarraga gave up three runs, seven hits and three walks over five innings.
Granderson has 18 leadoff homers, including one against Weaver on April 23, 2007, in a 9-5 win at Anaheim. ... The Angels placed RHP Kevin Jepsen on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 19, because of a lower back strain. INF Brandon Wood was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... John Lackey and Ervin Santana both threw simulated two-inning bullpen sessions Tuesday. If they come out of that OK, the next step is for them to begin an extended spring training program in Arizona this weekend. ... Tigers LHP Dontrelle Willis made a rehab start for Class A Lakeland on Tuesday night, allowing four runs and eight hits over seven innings. The two-time All-Star, who had a career-high 22 wins in 2005 with the Marlins, has been on the DL since March 29 because of an anxiety disorder.