Primed for first win with Angels, and first vs. Detroit this year, righty laments 2 pitches
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- Ricky Nolasco's woes against the Tigers continued Friday night at Comerica Park, when he allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings in the Angels' 4-2 loss, his fourth straight, and third against the Tigers this season.
Nolasco (4-12, 5.23) appeared to be on a different path, however, as he held the Tigers scoreless through five innings. That changed in a matter of seven pitches. In the sixth, he allowed a double to Victor Martinez, followed by another double, thanks to a hanging slider J.D. Martinez shot down the right-field line to tie the game at 1. Nolasco left another slider hanging in the zone on the very next pitch, and Justin Upton hit it for a go-ahead two-run homer.
The game came down to those two pitches, Nolasco said.
"I was able to make pitches and get out of those few innings before the sixth," Nolasco said. "It was two hanging sliders that I thought was the difference in the game -- the one to J.D. and the homer. Those two pitches right there, if I could make a better pitch, maybe we're still in the game. It came down to two pitches, and they didn't miss them."
Nolasco went on to allow a one-out home run to Cameron Maybin in the seventh inning, his seventh homer allowed in five starts with the Angels.
"Ricky got some big outs early and was actually doing a really nice job of locating his pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That sixth inning happened to him in a heck of a hurry with the two doubles and the homer, and then he elevated a two-seamer to Maybin in the seventh."
Friday's loss drops Nolasco to 0-3 with a 4.70 ERA in four games with the Twins and Angels against Detroit this season. He has posted a WHIP of 1.62 in the three losses. Having already faced the Tigers three times, it appeared early that the familiarity with their loaded lineup was working in his favor, but Nolasco said it does not play much of a factor.
"It doesn't really. That lineup is stacked top to bottom, so no matter how many times you face them, it's always a challenge," Nolasco said. "I have thrown some good games against them, and they've gotten me some games, too. But I don't look at that. I just try to take what I can from those, and what it comes down to is just making quality pitches the day that you're pitching. Like I said, I thought I was making pretty good ones for the most part, but those two hanging sliders were the difference."
The Angels acquired Nolasco from the Twins at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in exchange for Hector Santiago and Alex Meyer. The righty is 0-4 with a 5.70 ERA in five starts with his new club, but he's fine with how his first month has gone.
"I feel good, just feel like I'm giving us a chance and I'm trying to get deep into the game and eat up innings and things like that," Nolasco said. "Just keep working. I feel good where I'm at. I just have to keep trying to fill up the zone and give the team innings."
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.