At long last, Jordan Zimmermann found himself at the center of a locker room celebration.
“It’s been a while,” he said.
Zimmermann got his first win in 18 starts dating to last season, ending a skid of 10 consecutive losing decisions as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Monday night. It was his first victory since Sept. 5, 2018.
“I was happy to get out there and keep the game close, you know, and give these guys a chance to win,” said Zimmermann (1-8), who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. “We scored a bunch of runs, and all that matters is we got the win.”
Zimmermann avoided setting a team record for most consecutive starts without a win, having already tied Adam Bereno and his stretch of 17 starts during the 2002-03 seasons.
Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three, and Jordy Mercer also connected to help the Tigers improve to 2-15 against the AL West this season. Both wins have come against the Angels.
“We needed a win, no matter which way we look at it and no matter who did it,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve really struggled, we know that. We came out and played a really nice ballgame.”
Kole Calhoun homered for the Angels, who dropped to 1-4 during their seven-game homestand. Jaime Barria (4-4) gave up three runs, two earned, in five innings.
Mercer pushed the Tigers’ lead to 3-0 with a solo homer in the fifth, but Calhoun got the Angels on the board with a solo homer off the top of the wall in left field in the bottom half of the inning to make it 3-1.
Christin Stewart left the game after a hard collision into the wall trying to pull back Calhoun’s 24th homer of the season. Gardenhire said Stewart has a concussion and will be placed on the seven-day injured list, but the manager did not know who would be called up in a corresponding move.
Zimmermann made it into the sixth inning for the first time this month thanks to an improved slider. He also benefited from a change of position on the rubber to help improve the location of his pitches.
Zimmermann nearly gave away his lead when David Fletcher doubled off the wall in center to score Matt Thaiss and cut the deficit to 3-2. Blaine Hardy replaced Zimmermann and threw a wild pitch while walking Shohei Ohtani to load the bases. However, Hardy was able to stave off further damage by striking out Justin Upton and Calhoun to keep Zimmermann in contention for the win.
The Tigers added three runs in the eighth, including a two-run single by Cabrera, and another run in the ninth to snap a six-game losing streak.
“You look back at it now and you feel like you missed an opportunity, and we didn’t have a ton of opportunities over the course of the game,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.
Cabrera put the Tigers ahead 1-0 with a solo homer in the first inning, going out of his way to talk to Angels catcher Dustin Garneau as he crossed home plate. It was Cabrera’s 471st career homer, part of a 2-for-4 night to tie Johnny Damon (2,769) for 54th on the career hits list.
The Tigers placed C Bobby Wilson on waivers, Gardenhire said. Wilson, who is batting .091 in 15 games this season and in an 0-for-16 slump over his past six games, will be assigned to Triple-A Toledo or become a free agent if he is not claimed by another team. The move will clear the way for C Jake Rogers, one of the top prospects in the Tigers organization, to be called up from Triple-A.
Angels: CF Mike Trout remained in the game after being hit on the left hand by a pitch in the sixth inning. … RHP J.C. Ramírez (elbow) said he is ready to make his season debut after playing in his final rehab game with Class A Inland Empire, but Ausmus did not know if Ramírez would be activated off the injured list Tuesday. Ramírez had Tommy John surgery in April 2018, and his return will give the Angels another long reliever capable of throwing up to three innings for their overworked bullpen.
Tigers RHP Drew VerHagen (1-1, 14.40 ERA) will make his second start of the season Tuesday. VerHagen has allowed 12 earned runs in five innings over his past two appearances. The Angels RHP Griffin Canning (3-6, 5.15) will make his first start since July 20. Canning took the loss in the Angels’ 16-inning loss on Thursday, giving up five runs in two innings of relief.
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