DETROIT (AP) – All Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland wanted was for Jose Alvarez to avoid allowing a home run to Erick Aybar.
It didn’t work out as planned.
With two outs in the sixth inning, a runner on first and Detroit leading 3-2, Alvarez — making only his third major league start and running out of gas — Leyland had the matchup he wanted.
Drew Smyly was slated to face the next batter, Brendan Harris. Although Alvarez had given up a two-out single to Mark Iannetta, Leyland didn’t want to tax his struggling bullpen more than necessary. So he gambled that Alvarez could keep Aybar in the park after a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones.
Aybar hit his third home run of the season on Alvarez’s first pitch and the Los Angeles Angels went on to beat the Tigers 7-4 on Wednesday night.
“If he just kept him in the ballpark, gets a base hit, we had Smyly set for Harris as we did anyway. We asked a lot of him,” Leyland said. “He got the first two quick outs and then of course base hit and the home run. He did a terrific job. It wasn’t his fault. He was a little spent, there’s no question about that.”
Mike Trout also homered and drove in three runs in the Tigers’ eighth straight loss to the Angels. Detroit has been outscored 55-21 in the skid.
Leyland said he doesn’t think the streak has anything to do with how the teams match up.
“I don’t really believe in that,” he said. “It’s another team that’s a good team and they’ve been swinging the bats very well lately. They’re like everybody else. When they pitch good, they win games.”
Miguel Cabrera and former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter homered for Detroit. Alvarez (1-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Los Angeles emergency starter Billy Buckner gave up three runs and three hits in three- plus innings. He replaced Tommy Hanson, who was scratched after feeling tightness in his right forearm while warming up in the bullpen before the game.
“He’s going to be evaluated and have some tests done (Thursday) and we’ll see what’s going on,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Buckner was pulled in favor of Dane De La Rosa after walking Jhonny Peralta and allowing Andy Dirks’ infield single to lead off the fourth.
De La Rosa (2-1) got two quick outs before walking Austin Jackson to load the bases. But he fanned Hunter to end the inning with Detroit ahead 3-2. De La Rosa allowed a hit in two innings.
“Torii is especially tough with runners in scoring position. He’s tough,” Scioscia said. “That’s a big out right there.”
Scott Downs and Michael Kohn combined for two scoreless innings, and Kevin Jepsen gave up an unearned run on catcher Iannetta’s passed ball in the eighth. Ernesto Frieri pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save in 20 chances.
“For our bullpen to respond the way they did . Buckner did what he could,” Scioscia said. “The bullpen came in and gave us six strong innings.”
Los Angeles added three runs in the seventh against Smyly on Trout’s RBI double, Josh Hamilton’s groundout and Alberto Callaspo’s run-scoring single.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first on back-to-back homers by Hunter and Cabrera.
Hunter, who played for the Angels the previous five seasons before signing a two-year contract with Detroit, drove Buckner’s 3-2 pitch into the left-center field stands for his fourth home run.
Cabrera then lined a 2-0 pitch over the fence in left for his 22nd home run and second in two days. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Victor Martinez doubled with two outs but was stranded when Peralta sent Trout to the warning track in left-center to haul in his drive.
Trout tied it with a two-run homer in the third. After J.B. Shuck led off with a double, Trout sent Alvarez’s 2-1 offering over the fence in left for his 13th homer.
Prince Fielder’s run-scoring single gave Detroit a 3-2 lead in the third. His liner to right brought home Hunter, who led off with a double.
NOTES: Shuck, the Angels left fielder, ran into shortstop Aybar, and both players fell as Aybar caught Dirks’ pop up in short left for the first out of the second. Aybar held onto the ball but lost one of his shoes. Neither player was injured. … Leyland said RHP Anibal Sanchez, who is on the DL with a right shoulder strain, is “coming along fine,” but couldn’t say when Sanchez will start again. Alvarez started in Sanchez’s slot. … Los Angeles 2B Howie Kendrick didn’t play because he fouled a ball off his foot on Tuesday. … Scioscia said he hoped CF Peter Bourjos will return to the lineup on Thursday. Bourjos has missed two games after leaving Sunday’s game because of a jammed left thumb. … Thursday’s scheduled starters are Jered Weaver (1-4, 4.65 ERA) for the Angels against Doug Fister (6-5, 3.66). … Cabrera made his third error in two games at third base. His line drive in the seventh went off the buttock of Angels pitcher Michael Kohn. “It hit me on the meaty part,” said Kohn, who picked up the ball and threw Cabrera out at first. “I’m glad it hit me there.”
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