Fister pitches Tigers past Angels
DETROIT -- The Tigers desperately need consistent starting pitching.
They are happy to welcome Doug Fister back into the fold.
Wednesday, Fister shut down the dangerous Los Angeles Angels, allowing one run on two hits and two walks in eight innings. He allowed a first-inning homer to Albert Pujols, but otherwise shut down the same team that had put up 13 runs against the Tigers just 24 hours earlier.
"He was terrific," Jim Leyland said after Detroit's 7-2 win. "He moved the ball in and out, he changed speeds and he made them mis-hit a lot of balls."
Fister's only scare came with two out in the seventh, when he was hit in the chest by Kendrys Morales's comebacker. Luckily for the Tigers, it was a softly hit ball that only delivered a glancing blow. Fister momentarily couldn't find the ball, but recovered in time to throw out Morales.
However, when he started to experience some soreness in the area during the bottom of the eighth inning, he lost his chance at a complete game.
"Sitting there in the eighth, it started to stiffen up," Leyland said. "He was going back out there for the ninth until they told me that."
Leyland wasn't going to take any chances with his No. 2 starter -- not after a 1-6 start caused by two trips to the disabled list with a rib-cage strain.
Only now has Fister regained the dominant form that helped the Tigers run away with the AL Central in the final two months of last season. In his past two starts, both victories, Fister has allowed two runs on five hits in 15 innings. He's struck out 18 while only walking two.
"This is another step in the right direction," Fister said with his normal humility. "Any time you get an injury, it is difficult to deal with, but at the same time, it makes you stronger -- how you can mentally climb through something."
Fister has faced the Angels seven times, so they knew what to expect. They just weren't able to do anything against his pinpoint control.
"Fister pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said with respect in his voice. "He didn't do a single thing that we didn't expect tonight. It was all stuff we have seen from him in the past. He just does it very well, and there's not much you can do about it."
The Tigers also dominated the game offensively, pounding C.J. Wilson in his first game at Comerica Park since losing Game 5 of the ALCS. It was his worst game of the year, giving up seven runs and 13 baserunners in six innings. It was the first time he allowed more than five runs since the 7-5 postseason loss that kept the Tigers alive for one more game.
"I think it was just an anomaly," Wilson said. "They hit a lot of grounders in the right spots and a couple flyballs that landed just in front of our outfielders. Over the course of a season, those things even themselves out, but that didn't happen tonight."
The Tigers finished with six singles, five walks and a pair of doubles -- both by Brennan Boesch.
"Boesch drove the ball a couple times, but other than that, they were just hitting it in the right places," Wilson said. "They are the kind of team that is going to put the ball in play and take advantage of whatever they get. Today, that's exactly what they did."
In the end, one of the American League's best pitchers was left frustrated and tired of the holiday music that the Tigers had played all night.
"It didn't seem like Christmas for us," he said with a shrug.