Growing up in Wyandotte, Mich., Matt Shoemaker probably never imaged he’d be pitching against his favorite team.
He got the chance Saturday night, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-0 shutout over Detroit as his family looked on. The 27-year-old left hander tossed seven scoreless innings while scattering three hits and five strikeouts.
Shoemaker’s (8-3) eighth victory of the season keeps the Angels within two games of Oakland for the AL West lead.
Detroit’s only legitimate threat came in the first with Ian Kinsler’s one-out double to left field. Shoemaker worked out of danger by forcing Miguel Cabrera to ground out and striking Victor Martinez out.
Clutch hitting Efren Navarro continued to roll with a solo home run off Justin Verlander (9-9) in the second. It was Navarro’s first career homer and first two-RBI game; a ground out in the sixth brought Albert Pujols home.
“Hitting my first home run off a Cy Young winner, that’s huge for me and my career,” Navarro said in a post-game interview with Fox Sports West’s Alex Curry. “I finally got it and that’s kind of like a little lift off my shoulders. Now I can go out there and play knowing that I hit my first home run.”
Momentum continued to shift in the Angels’ direction when Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was ejected for arguing a reviewed play. Shoemaker attempted to pick off Eugenio Suarez at first but was called safe. Halo manager Mike Scioscia asked for a review, despite the fact that Austin Jackson was already in the batter’s box and Shoemaker on the rubber.
Once home plate umpire Cory Blaser ruled in the Angels favor, Ausmus stormed out of the dugout citing a rule that a play can’t be challenged once the pitcher or batter are set.
Los Angeles moves to a major-league best 37-19 at Angel Stadium and 5-4 on the current home stand. Detroit, meanwhile, loses for the ninth time in their last 10 games at the “Big A.”