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Daniel throws gem in first MLB start as Angels beat Tigers

Los Angeles Angels Davis Daniel - The Canadian Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Davis Daniel pitched four-hit ball over eight innings and struck out eight in his first major league start, and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-0 on Thursday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

“I told my wife this morning I didn’t sleep great. It felt like Christmas morning,” Daniel said. “Once I got to the park, I felt like I calmed down and everything felt good.”

Luis Rengifo hit a two-run homer and moved atop the American League in batting average. Miguel Sanó and Willie Calhoun also went deep for the Angels, who matched their longest winning streak of the season.

Daniel went 1-1 in three relief outings for the Angels last season. The right-hander didn’t walk a batter in his 2024 debut and retired 10 straight from the fourth inning through the seventh. He threw 98 pitches, 66 for strikes — including first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced.

“He barely broke a sweat. He worked fast, threw strikes and changed speeds. That was the key,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “It was outstanding. I don’t think you could have scripted it any better.”

The previous major leaguer to throw at least eight shutout innings with eight strikeouts or more in his first career start was Jason Jennings for Colorado in August 2001 at the New York Mets.

Daniel (1-0) was 5-4 with a 5.33 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Salt Lake before being called up. He moved into the rotation spot occupied by Patrick Sandoval, who tore the UCL in his left elbow and had season-ending surgery Wednesday after getting hurt on a pitch to Dodgers slugger and former teammate Shohei Ohtani last Friday.

“I think the changeup was good from the first inning. So, being able to throw that pitch with confidence I think opened up a lot of stuff. And I was able to stay in the zone,” Daniel said.

Riley Greene had two of Detroit’s four hits, but only two Tigers reached second base in a game that took just 2 hours, 5 minutes.

“Early, we did go into attack mode. When we didn’t get anything to show for it, a couple guys went away from it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We didn’t hit a ball on the barrel until the second time through. We had a hard time squaring (Daniel) up. He did a good job of staying relentless and he won the night.”

Detroit starter Jack Flaherty (5-5) had his four-game winning streak snapped after he allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander had gone 4-0 and allowed only one run in 22 1/3 innings coming into the game. He took his first loss since May 23.

“Bad start. They put some good swings on some pitches. Overall, not good command of pretty much everything,” Flaherty said.

Rengifo went 2 for 4 and raised his batting average to .312 to move into the AL lead ahead of Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who is hitting .310.

Nolan Schanuel's RBI single gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in the fifth, and Rengifo connected on a full-count slider from Flaherty that was low and outside the strike zone and sent it into the right-field stands.

It was Rengifo's first homer since May 26 against Cleveland.

Sanó, activated off the injured list Tuesday after missing 50 games with left knee inflammation, led off the second with a homer to left-center. Calhoun made it 2-0 in the fourth when he drove the first pitch from Flaherty to right-center.


Detroit will send RHP Kenta Maeda (2-4, 6.00 ERA) to the mound Friday. Los Angeles counters with RHP Zach Plesac (1-1, 8.68).