(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the second-best team in baseball right now. Unfortunately, the top team in the majors sits ahead of them in the standings in the American League West.
The Angles try to improve their position on Sunday when they close out a four- game series with the the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium.
The Angels are 21 games over .500 and have one of the best home records in baseball at 37-19, and yet the team still trails the Oakland Athletics by two games in the standings entering play on Sunday.
Detroit, which leads the AL Central by five games over Kansas City, threw Justin Verlander at the Angels last night and still the Tigers bowed for the second time in as many outings in a 4-0 final. Verlander was charged with three runs on six hits and three walks as he dropped to 9-9 on the campaign. The hurler fanned just four through seven innings.
"Pitched OK," Verlander said of his performance. "Not great, but OK."
Detroit hitters could muster just four hits, two of those coming from Austin Jackson.
Over on the other side, the Angels were buoyed by a strong effort from starter Matt Shoemaker. The rookie right-hander claimed his eighth win in 11 decisions, permitting a mere three hits and fanning five over seven innings.
"He moves the ball around, pitches in and out with his fastball," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus of Shoemaker. "He's got a very good split-finger. He's done a very good job for them and he was very good tonight."
Efren Navarro knocked in two runs for the hosts, while Erick Aybar and C.J. Cron both tallied a pair of hits for the Angels.
After being shut out on Saturday by the LA staff, Rick Porcello hopes to return the favor for the Tigers this afternoon. The right-hander, who is in his sixth major league season, all with Detroit, has won four of his last five decisions.
On Tuesday, Porcello was pitted against Arizona on the road and managed to last a full seven innings, but the Tigers eventually bowed by a score of 5-4. Porcello allowed three runs on five hits and struck out five in the no- decision.
The New Jersey native has a career mark of 4-4 with a lofty 7.39 ERA in 10 appearances versus the Angels, with one of those matchups coming back in April when he allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings.
A former member of the Chicago White Sox who is taking on the Tigers for the 12th time in his brief career, Hector Santiago gets the call for the Angels this time around.
The left-hander, now in his fourth major league campaign, lost his first seven decisions of 2014, but has since picked up back-to-back victories. On Tuesday Santiago was shooting for a third straight win, but even though he allowed just two hits in five innings, he failed to factor into the decision versus Baltimore at home.
These are the top-two hitting teams in the American League entering Sunday's action, with Detroit checking in at .277 and the Angels a distant second at .265.