DETROIT (AP) — Ian Kinsler has been working tirelessly in the batting cage, trying to turn around what has been his worst season offensively.
For one game at least, it paid off.
Kinsler hit a three-run homer in the second inning as part of a 3-for-3 performance to help the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 9-2 Tuesday night.
He entered the game on a 2-for-27 slump during the current road trip. After the victory, he raised his batting average to .195 with about one-third of the season finished.
“Long time coming,” Kinsler said. “Yeah, it’s definitely a relief.”
Luis Valbuena homered twice and Martin Maldonado added a two-run homer in the eighth inning for Los Angeles.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he hopes the fence-clearing shots will help Kinsler and Valbuena — who is hitting .234 — gain confidence after both put in extra work to fix their swings.
“The process only keeps you going for a while,” he said. “You have to start to see some results.”
Nick Tropeano (3-3) made the most of Los Angeles’ offensive display, allowing two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Tropeano said the early lead allowed him to relax and pitch to contact.
“This is one of the best lineups in the league,” he said. “It’s going to be scary once everything clicks.”
Michael Fulmer (2-4) was tagged for five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings with four walks.
“Everyone in here is doing their job right now, and I’m not,” Fulmer said. “I’m kind of embarrassed because I’ve always been able to go out there and help the team win games, and I’m not doing that right now.”
JaCoby Jones homered for the Tigers in the fifth, and Jeimer Candelario connected in the sixth.
Noe Ramirez, Jose Alvarez, Justin Anderson and Blake Parker combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Angels.
Los Angeles had lost two straight and nine of its previous 13 games. Detroit had won two in a row and four of five.
Angels: RHP Blake Wood is scheduled to have season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday and RHP Matt Shoemaker had surgery on his forearm on Tuesday.
Tigers: Slugger Miguel Cabrera took batting practice a day after fielding grounders, moving closer to playing for the first time since going on the DL May 4 with a hamstring strain. Cabrera said he is days away from returning.
Scioscia earned his 1,600th win. He snapped a tie with Tommy Lasorda for 20th on baseball’s career list, surpassing the manager from his playing career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I certainly don’t put myself in the same conversation with Tommy,” Scioscia said. “He might be the most competitive person I’ve ever been around in my life.”
Tigers LHP Francisco Liriano (right hamstring strain) and LHP Daniel Stumpf (elbow) were put on the disabled list after the game. Detroit recalled RHP Johnny Barbato and LHP Ryan Carpenter from Triple-A Toledo.
“Liriano said his hamstring was sore after his last start, and it hasn’t gotten any better,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s had a history of leg problems, but he is usually able to get through them. This time he couldn’t. … We’re going through a tough stretch. We’re finally getting some guys healthy, and then we lose two.”
Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani (4-1) and Tigers RHP Mike Fiers (4-3) are scheduled to start Wednesday night.
Ohtani, a 23-year-old rookie from Japan, has not pitched since May 20. He was on track to start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, but the Angels changed that plan as part of a workload management for the majors’ first two-way player in decades.
“This whole program won’t have a report card until the season is over,” Scioscia said.
So far, so good.
He has a 3.35 ERA in seven starts and is hitting .291 with six homers and 20 RBIs. Ohtani insisted he didn’t enter the season with expectations about how productive he could be, humbly adding he simply wanted to stay healthy.
“Everything has been really tough so far,” he said through a translator. “I still have a lot of hurdles to overcome.”
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