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Smyly loses delayed debut
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Detroit, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT — The word from out west was that the Los Angeles Angels’ hitters have been annihilating the baseball.
They continued to do so in the opener of a three-game series in front of 28,435 at Comerica Park on Friday night. They drilled three homers — two by second baseman Howie Kendrick — among their 10 extra-base hits.
In the process, they ruined Drew Smyly’s first start of the season and handed Brad Ausmus his first lopsided loss at home as manager.
The Angels won, 11-6, in a game they led 11-1 at the seventh-inning stretch. Two trends continued:
— The Angels have won 10 straight from the Tigers, a streak in which they’ve outscored Detroit, 69-28.
— The Tigers are 7-6 this season, and in all six losses, a right-handed starter has allowed them one run or fewer. This night, it was Jered Weaver. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and three hits in six innings.
Smyly was making his first start nearly two weeks later than scheduled. The delay was caused primarily by a first-week rainout and then a few open dates and finally another postponement this week.
The left-hander gave up his first two runs in the second primarily because he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up an RBI triple to the No. 9 hitter, Ian Stewart. Smyly needed 63 pitches in those first two innings, and so it was evident it would be a short night for him. His only regular-season work had been a pair of shutout three-inning relief outings. As it turns out, he went three innings in this game, too.
Kendrick hit his first homer in the third, a two-run drive. The Tigers were down 4-1 when Luke Putkonen relieved Smyly to open the fourth.
“It’s tough to get upset with Drew,” Ausmus said. “He hasn’t started in three weeks. ... He left a couple of pitches over the plate that were hittable, and some good hitters got hold of them. Again, it’s tough to be sharp when you haven’t had (starts). He’s been a victim of circumstances with these off-days and rain days.”
The Angels piled on three more extra-base hits off Putkonen in the fourth, and Kendrick capped the four-run rally with his second two-run homer in as many innings. Kendrick became the first Angel ever to hit two homers in a game at Comerica Park in its 15-year history, according to research done through Baseball-Reference.com.
Entering the game, the Angels had hit the most homers in the majors (24) and the Tigers had yielded the fewest homers of any AL team (seven). Albert Pujols unloaded his 497th career homer, a three-run drive to knock out Putkonen in the sixth. That made this the first game this season in which the Tigers had yielded three homers.