Angels crush three homers in rout of Tigers
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols and Matt Joyce hit early home runs, and Chris Iannetta came through with a late grand slam, to lead the Angels to a 12-2 win over the Tigers in Thursday's series opener at Angel Stadium.
Tigers right-hander Buck Farmer, starting in place of an injured Kyle Lobstein, was greeted by Pujols' line-drive two-run homer in the first inning and Joyce's long solo shot to right to open the second. Miguel Cabrera produced the Tigers' first run -- but with his foot, not his bat -- when he was hit by a C.J. Wilson pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the third. Jose Iglesias tacked on the other with a double in the ninth.
Wilson settled down after hitting Cabrera, tossing six innings of one-run baseball despite yielding a season-high five walks. The Angels eventually opened up their lead with some small ball in the sixth inning -- scoring on an infield single, fielder's choice and wild pitch -- and Iannetta's big fly in the seventh.
"From the offensive side, good night. C.J. really struggled -- we're fortunate to get him through six innings, because after three, it looked like we were lucky to get five," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But we got him through six, and that was important."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wilson stops his own bleeding: Wilson made things difficult for himself in the top of the third inning -- loading the bases with back-to-back two-out walks in front of Cabrera, then hitting Cabrera to force in a run. But he was able to limit the damage to the one run -- catching Yoenis Cespedes looking to end the inning -- and was very efficient from then on, retiring 10 of the final 13 batters he faced before the Angels opened up their lead.
"It was the best thing ever," Wilson said. "There wasn't any cushion, really, while I was out there. We scored the two runs and then the one run, and I was feeling good because that was the biggest lead I've had all year, I think. After that I was determined to keep my advantage and not give it away."
Farmer jacks: Farmer came to town having allowed only one home run in 51 1/3 innings at Triple-A Toledo, but the Angels got him for two in their first six batters, accounting for their first three runs. Pujols made him pay for a hanging breaking ball in the first inning for a two-run line drive over the left-field fence before Joyce jumped Farmer's first pitch of the second inning for a solo shot.
"I went with the slider and just hung it," Farmer said of the pitch he dealt to Pujols. "He definitely made me pay." More >
Joyce and Iannetta power up: Thursday was part of a recent resurgence for Joyce and Iannetta, who both scuffled in the batter's box to start the season. Joyce's homer was his second in as many days after he hit just one in his first 40 games, and Iannetta -- whose grand slam was the first by an Angels catcher since Jeff Mathis in 2008 -- entered the game with just two homers. From April 6 through May 15, Joyce and Iannetta combined for a .125 batting average (21-for-168), one homer and 12 RBIs. Since May 16, they've hit .328 (22-for-67) with five homers and 16 RBIs.
Cabrera plates run the hard way: Cabrera put the Tigers on the scoreboard, but he nearly got knocked out of the game doing it, taking a Wilson pitch off his surgically repaired right foot with the bases loaded in the third. Cabrera stayed in the game, but remained hobbled for a few innings after that. A diving deflection on a Joyce ground-ball single and an outstretched pick at a Nick Castellanos throw in the dirt probably didn't help.
"It stings him at first, and it's in an area that's been a problem for him," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "But I think he realized relatively quickly that his ankle was fine, relatively speaking." More >
"It's weird, man. This game's weird. It's such a roller coaster sometimes. It can really drive you nuts, and you just try to stay even-keeled and keep putting in the work, keep putting in the effort, and hopefully good things will happen. … Sometimes the game will make you question a lot of things. I definitely have some extra gray hairs from the start of the season." -- Joyce, on his early-season slump
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cabrera's hit-by-pitch was the 52nd of his career, but just the second with the bases loaded. The other came on April 28, 2010, from then-Twins reliever Pat Neshek, and it drove in the tying run in an 11-6 Tigers comeback win.
Before Thursday, the Angels were tied for 25th in the Majors in runs scored the first time through the batting order, with 31 -- before Pujols and Joyce homered their first time up.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar left the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with left hamstring tightness after squeezing in the Angels' fourth run of the game. Aybar's bunt brought home Johnny Giavotella to give the Angels a 4-1 lead, but Aybar pulled up holding his hamstring after trying to beat the play to first, and he did not take the field in the top of the sixth.
Joyce also left the game for a pinch-runner after an RBI infield single in the sixth, but he said he was fine.
"I just reached a little bit for the bag," he said. "It didn't really feel like a grab or anything pulled. I felt like I had a knot in my glute, and I don't think it'll be any problem." More >
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez, whose 11 home runs allowed this year include two sixth-inning shots that cost Detroit a four-run lead last Sunday against Houston, will try to regroup on Friday at 10:05 p.m. ET against an Angels lineup that has two home runs in 20 2/3 career innings off of him.
Angels: Hector Santiago will be on the hill for the Angels on Friday at 7:05 p.m. PT, trying to add to a string of four straight quality starts. He's had success against several Tigers, including Cabrera, but Cespedes is batting .364 with a pair of homers in 11 at-bats against him.
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