ANAHEIM -- In his two starts with the Angels following a brief stint with Triple-A Salt Lake, rookie lefty Reid Detmers has unveiled his revamped slider and has seen strong results.
After throwing six scoreless innings against the Orioles on Friday, Detmers allowed two runs over six solid frames in a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. Detmers, who didn't factor into the decision, gave up five hits and walked three, but struck out six and has a 4.11 ERA in 14 starts this year.
Despite throwing a no-hitter against the Rays on May 10, Detmers posted a 4.66 ERA through his first 12 outings before being optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake in late June but has posted a 1.50 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings over his last two starts since returning. On Thursday, he rebounded after giving up two runs in the first inning, making it through six innings for the fourth time this year.
"He was awesome," said interim manager Phil Nevin. "To be able to pitch through the sixth inning like he did was phenomenal. He found the feel for his pitches right away where I think in the past he would've had a hard time reeling them back in. But that was a winning effort today. What he did after the first inning was outstanding."
Detmers again leaned heavily on his slider, which he worked to tweak in his lone start with Triple-A Salt Lake on June 29 that saw him record 14 strikeouts in six innings. Against Houston, he threw his slider 27 times, coaxing five swings-and-misses with it. It’s a harder slider than he was throwing earlier in the year, averaging 85.5 mph on the night -- nearly two mph higher than his season average of 83.6 mph.
"The numbers on the board were good and the velocity was up right where we want it,” Nevin said. “He made some great pitches with it. And even when he fell behind in the count later in the game, he was able to reel it back in. For him to make those self-adjustments on his own, that's the mark of a frontline starter."
Detmers, though, struggled in the first inning, allowing the first four batters he faced to reach. He hit Jose Altuve with a slider to open the game and walked Jeremy Peña before giving up back-to-back singles to Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. Tucker's single scored the game's first run and Aledmys Díaz plated another with a fielder's choice. But Detmers was able to settle down after the first inning, keeping Houston off the board the rest of his time on the mound -- with one clean frame coming in the fifth.
"It was definitely a grind,” Detmers said. “After the first four batters, I felt good. It was just trying to get the feel of things again. I just didn't have any feel for the first few batters but once I settled in, I was fine. It was just feeling my body. I was falling into my old habits again, but then once I started to feel like myself, that’s when things started to get better."
Detmers said he had to readjust his arm slot during his outing, as he said it can sometimes get too high. He dealt with traffic in the game, but didn’t give up an extra-base hit and was helped by double plays in the third and sixth innings. He struck out Díaz on a 3-2 slider to end his outing on his 95th pitch.
"He did really well,” said outfielder Taylor Ward, who went 2-for-5 at the plate but struck out three times, including looking with two runners on in the eighth. “Sometimes he'd lose it but then he'd find it again. The double plays really helped. He was fun to play behind.”
Detmers kept the Angels in the game, as they scored in the third on a bases-loaded walk from Jonathan Villar and tied it in the fourth with Max Stassi scoring on a passed ball with Shohei Ohtani at the plate.
It was all the Angels could muster offensively, however, and lefty Aaron Loup gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th on an RBI single to Peña. The Angels couldn't score the free runner in the bottom of the frame, ending the night 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and 14 runners left on base.
"We had a lot of opportunities," Nevin said. "We had baserunners out there. We took some good at-bats. But we just didn't get a big hit."