Angels kick off series with Tigers
A pair of second-place teams in American League division races get together to begin a four-game series tonight, when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim head to Comerica Park to face the Detroit Tigers.
This series is the first between the teams in 2012. The Angels won the season matchup last year, 4-3, while the Tigers won six of 10 games in 2010.
Los Angeles is five games off the pace of front-running Texas in the AL West, while the Tigers are 3 1/2 back of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
Detroit won the division last season by 15 games. The Angels finished second in the West in 2011 and haven't reached the postseason since 2009.
On Sunday in New York, Maicer Izturis hit a two-run homer as the Angels avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees with a 10-8 win.
Mark Trumbo was 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two runs scored while Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar each added solo home runs for the Angels, who avoided getting swept for the second time this season.
"This is a huge win for us," Trumbo said. "We had some games get away from us, but I think we battled pretty good this series and we're going to take this victory and move toward our next series."
Jered Weaver (11-1) won his fifth straight start despite giving up five runs on 10 hits over seven innings of work. He is 6-0 over his last eight starts after losing his only game of the season on May 13 at Texas.
In Baltimore, Justin Verlander bounced back from his poor performance in the All-Star Game by tossing eight scoreless innings to help the Tigers blank the Orioles, 4-0, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Verlander (10-5) gave up just three hits and recorded eight strikeouts for the Tigers, who have won seven of eight.
As the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, Verlander was charged with five runs in just one inning of work.
But the right-hander regained his form Sunday, and has now worked six or more innings in each of his last 61 starts for the Tigers dating back to Aug. 22, 2010.
It marks the longest such streak by a major league pitcher since Steve Carlton did so in 69 straight starts from Sept. 13, 1979-April 13, 1982.
"The horse did what horses do," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Just a stellar performance by Verlander, and we go home winning the series."
Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson hit solo homers for Detroit, which got an RBI apiece from Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta.
The Angels send struggling righty Ervin Santana to the mound with a chance to erase a dismal outing in his last start before the All-Star break.
The 29-year-old Dominican retired only four batters while allowing eight runs on six hits and three walks in a 12-3 loss at Cleveland.
He's not won since June 16, when he went the distance and allowed only one hit in a 2-0 downing of Arizona.
Santana is 6-2 in eight career starts against the Tigers with a 3.57 earned run average across 53 innings.
Detroit starts 23-year-old right-hander Rick Porcello, who had won three of four starts before tossing in a clunker before the break.
The New Jersey native allowed 12 hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings of the Tigers' 7-3 defeat of Minnesota on July 5, raising his ERA from 4.35 to 4.47.
In four previous starts, Porcello defeated the Chicago Cubs, Texas and Tampa Bay while allowing 19 hits and five runs in 18 innings.
He's 3-1 in five career meetings with the Angels.