DETROIT -- Michael Trout hit his Major League-leading 18th home run in the ninth inning but it wasn't enough to lift the Angels, who dropped a 9-3 decision to the Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday in the four-game series opener.Trout's home run was one of the few bright spots
DETROIT -- Michael Trout hit his Major League-leading 18th home run in the ninth inning but it wasn't enough to lift the Angels, who dropped a 9-3 decision to the Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday in the four-game series opener.
Trout's home run was one of the few bright spots for the Angels, as Monday marked the 12th time in the last 16 games that the club has been held to fewer than four runs.
Manager Mike Scioscia credited Tigers starter Matthew Boyd (3-4) for keeping his offense at bay on a blistering hot afternoon.
"He did a good job changing speeds," said Scioscia, who's sitting at 1,599 wins, tied for 20th all time. "We got a lot of good looks at him early. Got his pitch count up there a little bit."
Boyd finished the third inning with 58 pitches, but the Angels only had one hit to show for it.
Monday was a departure from what the Angels have been doing on the road this season, and it reversed a trend for starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (3-4). Skaggs was 3-0 on the road this season with a 1.88 ERA. In 11 2/3 career innings pitched against the Tigers, Skaggs was 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA. The Angels had been stellar in opposing ballparks, boasting the best road record in the Majors at 17-7.
The Tigers got one run in the second inning when Niko Goodrum scored on a double-play ball. Then James McCann let loose with a one-out grand slam in the third to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
Skaggs said he was trying to throw a fastball away on a 2-0 count, but ended up leaking it over the middle of the plate.
"One bad pitch, that's been the story of my season for me," Skaggs said. "It ended up being a grand slam, which was kind of the nail in the coffin."
Scioscia acknowledged Skaggs' trouble locating pitches but said he thought the scoreboard was deceptive in its judgment of his left-handed starter.
"[Skaggs'] ball-strike ratio wasn't good," Scioscia said. "He was having trouble getting pitches into the zone where he wanted.
"I think he threw the ball better than his linescore shows. Unfortunately, we couldn't pressure them enough on the offensive side to get back in it."
Former Tiger Justin Upton returned to the Angels' lineup after missing Sunday's game against the Yankees with a left forearm contusion, but combined with Trout and Jose Pujols to go 3-for-13 at the plate.
"They hit the ball hard," Scioscia said. "Albert hit a double, Justin lined a single to center, Trout hit a ball 430 feet. You're not gonna get them all."
The Angels scored their first two runs in the eighth off consecutive doubles, by Pujols and Andrelton Simmons.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
When the Angels finally got their bats going in the eighth inning, former Tiger Ian Kinsler stepped to the plate with one out and a chance to cut the Tigers' lead to two, and he nearly did. With runners on first and second, Kinsler turned on a 1-2 slider and drove it to the warning track in left. Left fielder Victor Reyes had plenty of time to get under the ball, and made the catch right in front of the wall. The Tigers' lead stayed at 7-2 and the next batter, Jose Briceno, popped out to shallow center to end the inning.
SCIOSCIA, MALDONADO TOSSED
Frustration boiled over in the seventh inning when catcher Martin Maldonado argued with home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger over a called third strike. Scioscia was on his way out of the dugout when Ripperger tossed Maldonado. Scoiscia continued onto the field and, after a short discourse, was also ejected.
"We were surprised that [Ripperger] called it a strike because he had not been calling any pitches at the bottom of the zone a strike all day for both sides," Scioscia said. "So to ring a guy on a pitch that was even lower than what we perceived as what his zone was surprised us. That's what Maldonado was saying. That's what I was saying."
With two hits on Monday, Simmons is batting .371 (13-for-35) in his career at Comerica Park. He has also now hit safely in 26 of his last 30 games, and reached base safely in 33 of his last 34 games.
The Angels continue their series in Detroit when Nick Tropeano (2-3, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound after throwing a career-high 7 1/3 innings on May 24 vs. the Blue Jays, allowing only one run on four hits. The Tigers will counter with Michael Fulmer (2-3, 4.08 ERA), whose May 23 win vs. the Twins was his first since April 7. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. PT.
Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.