The last time Justin Verlander faced the LA Angels of Anaheim, he outdueled Jered Weaver and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his team's 3-2 win.
It's more than a year later since that July 31 gem versus the Angels in which Verlander allowed two unearned runs, struck out nine and walked two batters in eight frames. He is set make his 12th career start against them tonight.
Detroit's reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and league MVP is 4-4 with a 3.68 earned run average in 11 career matchups with Anaheim, and ended a four-start winless drought in a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, when he fanned 11 and gave up one run in eight innings.
Verlander is 13-7 in 28 starts to go along with a 2.73 ERA this season, and 6-5 in 15 road assignments. Weaver won't be opposing Verlander tonight and is battling a case of shoulder tendinitis.
The Tigers lost the opener of this set, 3-2, on Friday. Angels pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo singled home Peter Bourjos with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel was saddled with the loss and Max Scherzer's strong outing was wasted by a lack of offense.
Scherzer struck out nine and did not walk a batter through eight innings of two-run ball.
"Max was terrific. He pitched a whale of a game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Prince Fielder and Alex Avila both homered for Detroit, which remained one game off the lead in the AL Central after the White Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals.
The Tigers have lost six of 10 games and are 3 1/2 games off the wild card lead. They opened a 10-game trek on a sour note and will also visit the White Sox and Indians on the swing. Detroit has dropped four straight on the road.
Tigers infielder Omar Infante is two hits shy of 1,000 in his career.
Meanwhile, the Angels are just two games off a wild card spot and have won four in a row and 13 of their last 16 games.
Callaspo was the hero and Kendrys Morales finished 3-for-4 for Los Angeles, which kicked off a seven-game homestand versus Detroit and Oakland in stylish fashion.
"It was a fastball away, and I tried to put the ball in play," Callaspo said of his game-winning hit.
Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 to snap a 14-game hitting streak, and was hitting .357 with five home runs and 15 RBI over his past 18 games. Chris Iannetta finished 0-for-3 and entered the game batting .383 with 12 runs batted in through his last 17 contests.
The Angels moved a season-high 12 games over .500 (75-63).
C.J. Wilson has won back-to-back starts since an 11-game winless streak in which he compiled an 0-5 mark and a 6.09 earned run average. Wilson looks to make it three wins in a row when he squares off against Verlander tonight.
Wilson ended the slump on Aug. 29 versus Boston with six innings of three-run ball, then held the Athletics to two runs over five innings of an 8-3 victory on Monday. Wilson, in his first season with the Angels, improved to 11-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts. Wilson, who is 4-5 in 12 home starts, lost to Detroit on July 18, when he gave up seven runs in six innings of a 7-2 loss.
The left-hander is winless in his career against the Tigers, going 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in eight games, two of which have been starts.
The Tigers have won five of eight matchups with the Angels this season.