Two teams that could well be fighting for a wild card spot in the playoffs down the stretch meet up for the second of a three-game set at Comerica Park Saturday as the Detroit Tigers entertain the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels, 8 1/2 games out of first in the American League West where they are in third place behind both Oakland and Texas, seemed to have rebounded well from a four-game slide against Tampa Bay last week thanks to a four-game win streak of their own. On Thursday the Angels delivered a thrilling 14-13 win over Boston in extra innings to complete the sweep in that series, but on Friday the runs were much harder to come by as the team squeezed out a 2-1 victory over the Tigers.
Howie Kendrick's double to left center in the top of the sixth inning scored both Maicer Izturis and Mark Trumbo, giving the Angels all the offense they would need to pick up the victory. Izturis finished with three hits for an Angels squad that didn't have Albert Pujols in the lineup due to a sore calf and saw rookie phenom Mike Trout come up empty in five at-bats.
On the hill, Zack Greinke captured the win for the visitors as he allowed just the one run on five hits and a couple of walks, striking out five over the course of 7 2/3 innings. Garrett Richards fanned the only two batters he faced as he logged his first save of the season.
"I think he's getting more comfortable now, and I think he's getting acclimated to everything," LA manager Mike Scioscia said of Greinke's adjustment to coming to a new team. "Definitely felt better with his delivery tonight. He could throw [all his pitches] on any count, and it was a great game."
"Command felt real good. As good as it's felt in a long time, maybe all year," Greinke noted. "It was really good command, and hopefully it continues. I'll do whatever I can to try and keep it there."
Rick Porcello absorbed the loss for the Tigers as he permitted two runs on seven hits and struck out six through six innings as he dropped to an even 9-9 in 2012.
Of the five hits produced by Detroit, two came from Miguel Cabrera, who had a double and also launched his 32nd home run of the season.
Out of action since August 16, Dan Haren readies to take the hill for the Angels this evening in Detroit. The right-hander is trying to snap a two-game slide that now has him two games under .500 for the season.
Nine days ago the California native was matched up against Tampa Bay at home and was touched for five runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs, in just 3 2/3 innings of work in a 7-0 setback.
The Angels have lost three straight games in which Haren, who is an even 4-4 in his career versus the Tigers, has appeared.
As for Detroit, the club plans on using Drew Smyly to counter in this matchup. The left-hander is 4-3 as he heads into his first-ever meeting against the Angels.
Smyly has won two straight contests, the most recent of those coming on July 6 when he allowed just two runs on six hits, striking out 10, in six innings versus Kansas City. The Arkansas native has been called up from Triple-A Toledo to fill the spot of Doug Fister, who will miss this start due to a groin injury.
Detroit, which had a three-game win streak come to an end last night, is now 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central and sports one of the top home records in the league at 37-26.
All five games between these two teams thus far in 2012 have taken place in the Motor City, where the Tigers have won three.