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Game 90 Preview: Angels at Tigers

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Jul 4, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) delivers in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Jul 4, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) delivers in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Angels (49-40) vs. Detroit Tigers (46-43)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, ESPN, MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Ervin Santana (4-9, 5.75 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (6-5, 4.47 ERA)

Santana has regressed quite a bit this season after posting two consecutive years with sub-4.00 ERAs. As you might expect, his home run rate has skyrocketed to 18.9%, leaving him with an xFIP of 4.52. He's also stranding fewer runners and walking more hitters. He has been dominant at times this season, striking out at least 9 hitters on three separate occasions this year. He also threw a complete game one-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 16th. More often, however, he has been very hitable. He didn't even make it out of the 2nd inning in his last start, allowing 8 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks against the Cleveland Indians.

Porcello will be looking to repeat his success from last July, when he went 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA and prompted this story from yours truly... only to see him completely fall apart in August. I didn't get to watch Porcello's last start since I didn't have power, but allowing 12 hits in less than 4 innings isn't very encouraging for my assertion in the previous sentence. To his credit however, Porcello has been fairly consistent in the last couple months. He hasn't allowed more than 4 earned runs in a start since April and only allowed one home run in the entire month of June. I think he can be successful tonight if he keeps the speedsters -- especially Mike Trout -- off the bases.

Who are the 2012 Angels?

Only the hottest team in baseball since mid-May. After an 18-25 start, they are a scalding 31-15. Their pitching staff is 2nd in the AL with a 3.67 ERA and have combined for a whopping 13 shutouts on the year. Albert Pujols has 15 home runs on the season, a higher-than-expected total considering he didn't hit his 2nd homer of the year until May 16th. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo lead the team in every meaningful offensive statistic. Trout has 30 steals on the season and will run wild on our pitching staff. Ernesto Frieri gave up 3 runs yesterday, bringing his total of runs allowed on the season to... 3. LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Downs also have ERAs that start with 1-something. David Pauley will probably come in and shut us down for 2-3 innings at some point in this series.

Outlook

Sadly, there will be no Justin Verlander vs. Jered Weaver matchup in this series. Weaver pitched yesterday, picking up his 11th win of the season in a 10-8 victory over the New York Yankees. The Tigers also dodge Dan Haren, who is on the disabled list with a back injury. With how the pitching matchups work out, I would like to see at least three wins in this series. Of course, with the series against the Chicago White Sox looming, anything that happens in the next four days can be erased with a good (or bad) showing against the Sox. Tonight, the Tigers need to get to Santana early. He is allowing an OPS of .809 the first time through the lineup and .816 the second time through. If Porcello can get into a groove with a decent lead, the Tigers should be in good shape.

Prediction

Porcello rebounds from his last outing with a quality start tonight.

Gameday Reading:

Trout and Trumbo May Spell End to Bourjos and Morales as Angels - Halos Heaven
"As popular a player as he has been, there is no question that Bourjos has been the player most marginalized by the exciting season Trout is having."

Angels are back on stride heading into 2nd half - FOX Sports
"Indeed, the new pecking order in Anaheim becomes more obvious each week: An oversized poster of Vernon Wells was removed from above the main entrance to Angel Stadium before the club's final homestand last week, replaced by an action shot of Trumbo alongside the shots of Weaver, Pujols, Torii Hunter and left-hander C.J. Wilson."

Know Thy Enemy: 2012 Los Angeles Angels - DesigNate Robertson
"Can we sign Carlos Guillen to a four day contract just for this series?" I'd be all over this if Weaver were pitching.