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Tigers sink Angels, Joel Pineiro, 10-6

Detroit capitalizes for 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings as Pineiro gets caught relying heavily on sinkerball.

April 30, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Detroit —

Joel Pineiro and Darrell May now have something very rare in common, and if you remember May, the soft-tossing left-hander who went 26-43 with a 5.16 earned-run average in an undistinguished seven-year career, including parts of 1996 and '97 with the Angels, that is not necessarily good.

Pineiro was rocked for 10 runs — nine earned — and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 10-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park on Friday night, a rough start to a 10-game trip for the Angels.

Eight of those runs came in the fourth inning, when Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch (grand slam to left-center) and second baseman Scott Sizemore (solo shot to left) hit the first home runs of their major league careers.

It marked the first time since Sept. 29, 2002, that two players hit their first career homers in the same half-inning. On that day, Cleveland's Victor Martinez and Earl Snyder accomplished the feat against Kansas City, whose pitcher that day was May.

According to home-run historian David Vincent, it also marked the second time that two Tigers each hit his first career homer in the same inning. The other time came during the first week of the Tigers' first season: on April 29, 1901, when Kid Elberfeld and Pop Dillon connected in the sixth inning against host Chicago.

The game-breaking slam by Boesch, a former Harvard-Westlake High School standout, traveled an estimated 417 feet, and Sizemore's went 375 feet.

Catcher Gerald Laird also hit a two-run homer in the rally that went 402 feet, giving the Tigers 1,194 feet of homers in one inning off a sinker-ball specialist who relies on ground-ball outs.

"That was an ugly start," said Pineiro, who entered the game with the lowest ERA (2.16) against the Tigers among active starting pitchers with a minimum of 10 starts. "The ball was moving right into their bats. I tried to go away, and the ball moved in. They knocked me around."

The nine earned runs off Pineiro matched a career high set while pitching for Seattle. Pineiro gave up nine earned runs and 12 hits, but no homers, in 3 2/3 innings Aug. 15, 2006, at Oakland.

Pineiro has given up 15 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings in his last two starts after allowing four earned runs in 20 1/3 innings of his first three starts.

The last time the Angels allowed eight or more runs in an inning was Sept. 19, 2008, when they gave up nine in the third inning at Texas.

Boesch and Sizemore weren't the only Tigers rookies to have big nights. Center fielder Austin Jackson, acquired from the New York Yankees in the Curtis Granderson deal, had five hits, all singles, and scored two runs.

The last Detroit rookie with five hits in one game was Granderson, who did it against the Angels on Sept. 18, 2005.

The eight-run fourth was like a lightning bolt. Pineiro had settled down after a two-run first, retiring eight of nine batters, six on ground balls, before the fourth, and Torii Hunter's three-run homer in the third gave the Angels a 4-2 lead.

But Pineiro walked Brandon Inge to open the fourth, Laird and Sizemore hit home runs, Johnny Damon hit a run-scoring double, and Boesch knocked Pineiro out of the game with his grand slam.

"He got the ball up, and it happened in a hurry," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was trying to force some things a little bit with the sinker when maybe it wasn't there for a certain point of the game.

"Joel is a pitcher, but at times, when you're trying to pound one thing, you have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on yourself to be finer with every pitch. When he got into that rut where he couldn't put the ball into a good zone, he became pretty one-dimensional."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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