The Los Angeles Angels are off to a winning start with Mike Trout back in the lineup.
Trout, who had been sidelined since July 12 with a back injury, returned to go 1-for-4 in the Angels’ 1-0 triumph over the host Detroit Tigers on Friday.
The teams will square off again on Saturday afternoon.
Trout also nearly had an opposite-field, extra-base hit, but the ball landed just foul.
“Really good,” interim manager Phil Nevin said of Trout’s at-bats. “Just missed what was probably going to be a triple there, really an inch. Smoked the ball to left (for a single). They made some good pitches late. …
“I thought he swung good for a guy who hasn’t seen live pitching in over a month. Just really cool to see him in there.”
Trout’s return coincided with the start of a 10-game trip for Los Angeles. Patrick Sandoval, 25, pitched the first shutout of his career, giving up four hits, walking none and striking out nine.
Having Trout near the top of the batting order provides a steady dose of optimism.
“It’s good to be back; I feel good,” Trout said. “It’s always important to be on the field with the guys. You go through August and it’s a grind. Those guys are out there playing hard, and it was one of my goals to get back as soon as possible.”
Reid Detmers, the Angels’ starting pitcher on Saturday, has racked up strikeouts over his past six starts. He’s recorded 47 K’s in his past 36 innings after notching no more than six in his first 12 starts.
Even more impressive is that Detmers has given up just six runs during his past six outings, pitching to a 1.50 ERA in that span.
Detmers (4-3, 3.45 ERA) struck out nine while allowing two runs in five innings on Aug. 13 against the Minnesota Twins.
It’s partly due to him throwing harder as the season goes along. Against the Twins, Detmers’ fastball averaged a season-high 94.5 mph.
The left-hander will face the Tigers for the first time in his career.
Detroit will counter with left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-7, 3.98). He was charged with the loss in his past four starts, though he hasn’t pitched poorly, giving up nine earned runs over 21 innings (3.86 ERA).
In his latest outing, on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox, Alexander yielded three runs and six hits in five innings.
“It was just a grind,” Alexander said after the 5-3 loss. “As a pitcher, you know when you don’t have your best stuff so you just grind. I battled through five and gave us a chance to win.”
Alexander has pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-run relief in his two career appearances against the Angels.
Detroit was shut out for the 17th time this season on Friday. The Tigers were the first team in Sandoval’s 20 starts this year that failed to draw a walk.
“There were a few chases in there, but more than ball-strike, we couldn’t get the ball off the ground,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We couldn’t elevate him. His slider was down, his sinker was down, his changeup’s always been really good.”
Detroit wasted a strong outing from Matt Manning, who limited the Angels to one run and three hits in seven innings.
“You’d like to put a little more pressure on (Sandoval), especially with the way our guy was pitching,” Hinch said.