Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/26/13
DETROIT How do you explain the Detroit Tigers getting totally dominated by a team that almost everybody else is kicking down the street like a can? There is no bigger disappointment in baseball right now than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They keep adding mega-money superstars Albert Pujols last year and Josh Hamilton this year and cant become contenders. They have Mike Trout, the runner-up for last years American League MVP Award, and one of the most under-publicized run-producers in the game in Mark Trumbo. The Angels dragged into Detroit fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Anaheim. They brought a 33-43 record and a grossly underachieving 139 million payroll to town. After beating the Tigers, 7-4, on Wednesday night, the Angels have a chance to sweep the six-game season series Thursday afternoon. The Central Division-leading Tigers lost three games in Anaheim in April and have been outscored, 43-16, in five games by the Angels. I dont know how to explain it, said Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, who played for the Angles last season. Theyre manhandling us right now. They are throwing us around like a rag dollIts tough to explain. This game is crazy; why do I play this game? Hunter, who had a homer and a double Wednesday night and five hits over the two home losses to the Angels, forced a smile and shook his head. This ballclub, he added, they have our number. The Angels also won the final three games in 2012, and their eight-game winning streak against Detroit is their longest active streak against any team. Hunter was on the other side when they swept three from the Tigers in Anaheim last September in the heat of a pennant race. Factor in that Detroit is 26-13 against everyone else at Comerica Park and has more home victories than anybody, and it gets even more confounding. Wednesday nights game was all but handed to the Tigers when scheduled starter Tommy Hanson developed right forearm tightness while warming up in the bullpen. Minutes before the first pitch, he was scratched and Billy Buckner became the emergency starter. Buckner was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake City last week and got the final two outs Tuesday night. Detroit got back-to-back homers from Hunter and Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, and Buckner gave up three runs before departing after three innings. It seemed like we had em on the ropes early, Hunter said. But theres no excuse. Weve got to do our jobs. Detroit could scrounge out just one run against a parade of five relievers. Trout, who had a two-run homer off starter Jose Alvarez and an RBI-double against reliever Drew Smyly, was asked to put his finger on the Angels dominance of Detroit. Were coming out swinging and having great at-bats, Trout said. (Erick) Aybars (two-run) homer was the biggest at-bat of the game, and gave us a lot of momentum. Aybar crushed a hanging changeup on the last of Alvarezs 110 pitches to give the Angels a 4-3 lead. Alvarez is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA after three starts, and could very well get at least one more start before returning to Toledo. Leyland said Anibal Sanchez, whom Alvarez has replaced in the rotation, would pitch a simulated game by throwing to live hitters Thursday morning. The talented right-hander has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 16 with a right shoulder strain. Sanchez cant be activated until July 2, and his rotation spot being filled by Alvarez comes up the day before that in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Asked about Alvarez getting one more start, Leyland said, If (Sanchez) is going out for a rehab assignment, thats a strong possibility. VERLANDER MAKES KEY ADJUSTMENT: Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones said after the game that Justin Verlander made a significant adjustment to his release point in a bullpen session before Wednesdays game. Were trying to get him more downhill, Jones said, and that means making his release point later. He did very well with that. Could Jones see a difference in Verlanders eyes that Ive got it now look? Yeah, for sure, Jones said. Justin was really pleased with what he got done today. Verlander (8-5, 3.90 ERA) is coming off two starts in which he has gone a total of 10 innings and given up nine runs on 14 hits and seven walks.
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