Brennan Boesch ends slump, teammates don’t

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Lynn Henning
The
Detroit News

Detroit — If it was any consolation to the Tigers — and it wasn’t — Brennan Boesch at least said goodbye to his slump Friday night.

The rookie outfielder, who has had a terrible time of it the past six weeks, hit his first home run since June 27 and added a single, which amounted to one-half of the Tigers’ hitting attack as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Tigers, 4-2, at Comerica Park.

“Just what you saw tonight — when he hits it, something happens,” said Jim Leyland, the Tigers manager whose team hasn’t had much else happening the past three weeks.

The Tigers are 5-18 since the All-Star break and 53-56 for the season, which continues to barrel southward.

Boesch’s at-bats were only going to hold up Friday if Tigers starter Justin Verlander twirled one of his occasional masterpieces.

But against the Angels, Verlander was not terribly artistic.

He allowed two runs in each of the first two innings, with the first two coming on Torii Hunter’s 435-foot home run that sailed past the flag pole and crashed against the brown brick wall in distant left-center field.

“I hung it and he hit it,” Verlander said of an 0-2 slider that followed a slider Hunter had swung at and missed. “I threw a cement mixer up there.

“All in all, I didn’t pitch that badly,” said Verlander, who lasted seven innings, allowing seven hits and all four runs, while striking out two and walking two. Verlander’s record is now 12-7.

If it made a big crowd of 35,106 feel any better, the fans at least got some bonus entertainment from Hunter in the eighth.

He and manager Mike Scioscia were thrown out by home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa after Hunter didn’t care for a called third strike delivered by reliever Ryan Perry.

Hunter was more than agitated. He went jaw-to-jaw with Kulpa, was quickly tossed for arguing balls and strikes, and then had to be restrained after he and Kulpa got into a fiery shouting match in which Scioscia tried to intervene, like a referee in a boxers’ clinch.

Hunter was finally pulled by teammates into the Angels dugout. Meanwhile, Kulpa and Scioscia continued their scalding exchange along the third-base line.

At that point, a bag of balls — launched by Hunter — came hurtling onto the field, which will probably earn Hunter a suspension, even if his earlier rant hadn’t. And it likely did.

“Obviously, Torii didn’t like strike one, and we had a talk about strike one,” Kulpa said afterward. “And then he didn’t like strike three, and we had a conversation about strike three. And he said some things that crossed the line and he got ejected.

“And then after that he beaked me with the brim of his helmet.”

The Tigers weren’t otherwise contributing much to Friday’s theatrics.

They didn’t score until the third when, with one out, Boesch slammed a change-up by Angels starter Jered Weaver on a long, high line, 407 feet into an upper bank of seats, just inside the right-field foul pole.

Boesch was 8-for-80 in his last 21 games and was homer-less in July. He followed his home run with a hard single to right-center in the fifth, the second of three hits Weaver allowed in his seven-inning shift.

The Tigers scored an unearned run in the fourth on a pair of walks and a fielder’s choice bounce-out by Johnny Damon on which second baseman Erick Aybar threw the ball away trying to double up Damon.

The Tigers’ only other hit came on a two-out single in the eighth by Ryan Raburn, who was working against his old teammate, Fernando Rodney.

But that was all the Tigers were getting Friday.

They went 1-2-3 in the ninth, which, for Leyland’s team, made the ninth like too many other innings of late.

August 7, 2010