Homers come early, late as Angels topped by Tigers
Offense stifled in Detroit outside of solo jacks by Shuck, Pujols
DETROIT -- Mike Trout would look at a fastball from Max Scherzer, pick his head up, see a radar gun reading of 92 or 93 miles per hour and figure something was wrong with the Comerica Park scoreboard.
"I was questioning it," Trout said after a 5-2 loss to the Tigers. "I was like, 'I don't know if that thing's right.'"
It was right, but so was practically everything else Scherzer threw on Saturday - the low-80s changeup, the mid-80s slider and, yes, that lively fastball that tails off and plays a lot harder than radar guns indicate. Trout struck out three times against Scherzer, then another time against Joe Nathan in the ninth for the first four-strikeout game of his career.
It was that kind of night for the Angels' offense, which got only J.B. Shuck's second home run of the season to start the game and Albert Pujols' 498th career homer in the ninth while snapping a 10-game winning streak against the Tigers.
"He's a great hitter and I respect everything that he does," Scherzer said of Trout. "But you have to be really aggressive right back at him. You have to use all your pitches and you have to attack him. If you give him an inch, he can hit it a mile."
After Shuck's leadoff homer, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was devastating, giving up two hits, walking another two while striking out nine and allowing no other runs through seven innings. Scherzer retired the last 10 batters he faced, dropped his ERA to 2.33 and forced C.J. Wilson to be nearly perfect on a crisp afternoon when the left-hander was anything but.
"It's pretty easy to see I was inconsistent today," said Wilson, who allowed six of the first eight batters to reach, gave up two homers, threw a wild pitch and needed 111 pitches to get through five innings.
The Angels (8-9) had a chance to move above .500 for the first time since Opening Day 2013, but Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the second, Brennan Boesch's dropped fly ball led to another run in the third, Victor Martinez hit a solo shot in the fifth and Josh Wall, taking the mound one day after being charged with five earned runs without recording an out, allowed another run to cross in the eighth.
"We needed the innings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of his decision to go with Wall in what was still only a three-run game. "We talked about how much Joe Smith has pitched leading up to here, Ernie [Frieri], Michael Kohn, [Kevin] Jepsen. These guys have all pitched a lot. Fernando Salas went a couple innings back home on Wednesday. We needed Josh to come back out and hold that deficit, and unfortunately he couldn't do it."
One day after notching 10 extra-base hits in an 11-run barrage, the Angels had only four hits and put one runner in scoring position.
Trout, still batting a very solid .319/.380/.639 on the year, swung through a 2-2 chest-high fastball in the first, looked at a 2-2 fastball that painted the outside corner in the third, chased a 1-2 slider in the dirt in the sixth and whiffed on Nathan's 2-2 slider in the ninth.
"My first couple at-bats, I really only saw one that I swung at and fouled off that I really got a good look at," Trout said, after his 353rd Major League game resulted in his first Golden Sombrero.
"That's baseball, man. You can't get a hit every time. It's a long season. One game isn't going to change anything. I'm going to go out there tomorrow with the same approach -- get my pitch and make sure I don't miss it."