DETROIT — The Angels entered Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park with a 33-43 record and an 11-game deficit in the American League West, figures that baffle Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, the former Angels star who signed a two-year, $26-million deal with Detroit last November.
Many expected the Angels, with a lineup featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick and what appeared to be an improved bullpen, would contend for a championship.
But the Angels have experienced breakdowns in every phase of the game — starting pitching, relief, offense, defense and baserunning — and entered the series with the third-worst record in the American League.
“I am surprised — that’s a good ballclub over there,” said Hunter, who is batting .299 with three home runs and 30 runs batted in. “You look at Trumbo and Trout, Hamilton and Pujols … you want me to keep going? The list is sick over there.
“It’s kind of weird to see what’s going on with those guys. Eleven games out? Nobody in this world predicted that. That’s how crazy baseball is. It’s a tough game to play.”
Hunter still keeps in touch with many of his ex-teammates, but when asked if he had an explanation for the Angels’ extended struggles, he said, “There is no explanation. It is what it is. You can’t do anything about it. I have no explanation, and even if I did, I wouldn’t say it because I’m not there anymore.”
Hunter said it wouldn’t be wise to count the Angels out. Toronto was in just as deep a funk before reeling off 11 straight wins to get back into the AL East race, and Hunter believes the Angels are capable of a similar run.
“They’re still a dangerous team,” Hunter said. “You saw what Toronto just did. With the team the Angels have, they can definitely win 10, 12 in a row and start catching the Rangers and A’s. Don’t get it twisted. That’s a helluva ballclub over there. When all cylinders click, it’s going to be ugly. You just don’t want to wait until it’s too late, like we did the last two years.”