DETROIT — The Angels' offense, which for weeks had resembled a muscle car firing on all cylinders, left the Motor City on Thursday looking like a clunker in need of a major tuneup, new tires and a paint job.
After amassing 19 runs and 29 hits in their first two games in Detroit, the Angels mustered three hits for a second straight game and lost to the Tigers, 5-1, in Comerica Park, closing a trip to New York and Detroit with a 2-5 record.
The rotation has been a source of consternation for weeks — Angels starters have a 5.28 earned-run average in July, and right-hander Jerome Williams didn't help matters by giving up five runs and nine hits, including two home runs, in six innings Thursday.
Now an offense that ranked first in the league in average (.303), second in runs (121) and third in homers (35) since June 24 has suddenly hit the skids, leaving the Angels with virtually no momentum and a six-game deficit entering Friday night's game against the American League West-leading Texas Rangers in Anaheim.
"We've hit a bump in the road," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We need to start playing to our potential like we did before the All-Star break, and the wins will be there for us. We need to get back into our game, and it's a good time to start."
The Tigers wouldn't let the Angels anywhere near their game the last two days, limiting them to three runs and six hits.
Wednesday, the Angels were shut down by crafty right-hander Doug Fister, a sinker-ball specialist who relies on movement and location.
Thursday they were overpowered by hard-throwing right-hander Max Scherzer, who used a 96-mph fastball, slider and changeup to limit the Angels to one run and three hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking four.
"Fister was more of a finesse guy who located really well and kept us off-balance," said Angels slugger Mark Trumbo, who struck out on a 95-mph fastball in the second and a changeup that nose-dived out of the strike zone in the fourth.
"Today? That was filthy. There wasn't a whole lot to be had. The way Scherzer was throwing, I don't think anyone would have done too much, so it's a little easier to forget. You chalk it up to him getting it done and us having to wear it."
Williams (6-7) wasn't up to the challenge, giving up three runs in a second inning that featured doubles by Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila's two-run homer.
Danny Worth hit a run-scoring double in the fourth, and Miguel Cabrera's solo shot to left in the fifth made it 5-0. The lone Angels run was scored on Mike Trout's homer to left in the sixth.
Williams was 4-2 with a 3.68 ERA on June 1, but he is 0-5 with a 7.53 ERA over his last five starts, giving up 24 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings.
"Terrible," Williams said, when asked how he felt about his performance. "If the ball is up in the zone a lot, you're going to get hurt. I have to be better than that. I have to get back to pounding the strike zone, throwing the ball down in the zone and getting control of counts."
Williams' subpar stuff may be good enough to beat the league's weaker hitting teams. Not the Yankees and Tigers, who punished him in his last two starts.
"They're going to drive the ball," Scioscia said. "Mistakes don't come back a lot of times because they're hit a long way."