Tigers struggle to find consistent hitting, Angels win 2-0

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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers know they have good hitters.

All they need to do is look around the clubhouse. Miguel Cabrera is having an incredible season. J.D. Martinez has 34 homers. Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias are hitting over .300.

And while Victor Martinez is having a bad year, he's still a career .303 who walks and hits for power.

What the Tigers don't know is why games like Thursday afternoon keep happening.

Facing Matt Shoemaker, a pitcher who had just spent 10 days in Triple-A to work on his stuff, and the Los Angeles Angels' bullpen, the Tigers managed only two hits in a 2-0 loss.

"All I know is that we've lost another close game," Victor Martinez said. "Randy (Wolf) gave us a great chance to win, and that's a guy who is 39 and coming back from a couple years injured, and we didn't do a thing for him."

The Tigers have lost six of seven, with five of the losses coming by one or two runs.

"I don't know how to explain it," Martinez said. "We just have to fly to Toronto and try again tomorrow."

Having grown up 30 minutes south of Comerica Park, Shoemaker made his first appearance in his hometown ballpark. It turned out better than he could have imagined.

Shoemaker (6-9) gave up one single in 7 1-3 innings.

"This was unbelievably special," he said. "To get a win for this team, and do in front of tons of friends and family. It was great."

The Angels began the day trailing Minnesota by one game for the second American League wild-card spot, with Texas also a half-game ahead of them, so Shoemaker's performance was even more important.

"That's as good as it gets from Matt," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's a tough lineup to go through, and you can't say enough about the adjustments he kept making."

Angels catcher Carlos Perez got a big assist in the win, too. Two of them, in fact, as he picked off Anthony Gose at first base and later threw him out trying to steal second.

Shoemaker was born in Wyandotte, went to high school in Trenton and attended Eastern Michigan University, a school that has a large ad on the right field fence. He dominated the team he grew up watching, permitting just a single by Gose in the third.

"I went to games at Tiger Stadium growing up, and I went to games here," he said. "Cecil Fielder was always my favorite player."

Shoemaker walked one and struck out five. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 31st save.

Wolf (0-2) pitched well enough to win in his second start since June 2014. He gave up one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out five.

The Angels broke the scoreless tie with two outs in the sixth. Wolf walked Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols followed with a RBI single to left.

"The walk to Calhoun is the one thing that I wish I could have back," Wolf said. "When you get behind Mike Trout, you don't give him something he can crush, and I actually got lucky with Albert. That was a terrible pitch, and I got a break that he only hit it for a single."

In the meantime, the Tigers kept losing runners on the basepaths, something they do more often than any team in baseball. Picked off early, the speedy Gose was then nabbed by Perez in the sixth.

"There's more to stealing bases than speed, and Anthony is still learning a lot of that," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "If you look at Rajai (Davis), he's a veteran, and he's got that feel of what pitchers and catchers are doing.

Detroit leads the American League in runners caught stealing and grounding into double plays, and is among the leaders in both runners picked off and thrown out at the plate.

Scioscia pulled Shoemaker after he retired Victor Martinez to start the eighth, and the move almost didn't work. J.D. Martinez hit Joe Smith's first pitch into left-center for a triple, but Smith struck out Nick Castellanos and retired Alex Avila to end the inning.

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the ninth against Bruce Rondon, and Shane Victorino had a sacrifice fly.


Angels: 2B Grant Green returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with right knee soreness and sitting out Wednesday.

Tigers: RHP Shane Greene was scheduled to have season-ending surgery Thursday in Dallas to repair a weakened blood vessel in his right shoulder that has pressed against a nerve, causing numbness in his pitching hand. Greene should be ready for offseason conditioning and spring training.


Angels: Los Angeles flies across Lake Erie to start a three-game series in Cleveland with Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.39) facing Danny Salazar (11-7, 3.30) in the opener. Heaney gave up a career-worst eight runs in his last start.

Tigers: Detroit also remains in the Great Lakes, playing Toronto in a weekend series at Rogers Centre. Former Blue Jays pitcher Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.88) faces R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.26) in Friday night's opener.

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