Ramirez settles in after early struggles

Angels starter gives up two homers in loss to Tigers

Ramirez settles in after early struggles

ANAHEIM -- Since moving into the rotation, JC Ramirez has been most vulnerable in the first inning, a trend that once again proved true in the Angels' 7-1 loss to the Tigers on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

Ramirez surrendered a three-run home run to Justin Upton in the first and a two-run shot to Andrew Romine in the second, two major blows that doomed the Halos early. Eight of the 16 runs that Ramirez has allowed since becoming a starter have been in the first inning, resulting in a 12.00 ERA in that frame.

"First inning, I was missing location," Ramirez said. "But I think the first inning has been huge for me in all games since I started. I don't know why I've been giving up runs this inning, and then I bounce back. I think it's something I need to work on. Maybe I need to be more focused and be more mentally prepared for that first inning."

The Tigers opened the game with back-to-back singles from Ian Kinsler and Nicholas Castellanos, though Ramirez nearly escaped trouble by striking out Miguel Cabrera and coaxing a flyout from Victor Martinez to record the first two outs of the inning. But Ramirez left a first-pitch slider over the heart of the plate to Upton, who hammered it an estimated 414 feet to center field.

In the second, Ramirez yielded a leadoff single to James McCann and then left a fastball up to Romine, who smashed it over the right-field fence to sink the Angels into a 5-0 hole.

"I hang it, they bang it," Ramirez said. "That was all, I guess."

Even with Mike Trout back in the lineup, the Angels could not overcome the early five-run deficit and mustered only four hits against reigning American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer. Perhaps the only bright spot of the night was that Ramirez eventually settled in and pitched seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.

"It really comes down to a couple pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Ramirez. "Outside of that, he settled in and threw the ball the way we had expected. So it came down to a couple pitches early, and once Fulmer got a lead -- he's got good stuff and he pitched a strong game for them."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.