Detroit Tigers (73-63) at Los Angeles Angels (74-63)
Time/Place: 10:00 p.m., Angels Stadium of Anaheim
SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (15-6, 3.93 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.32 ERA)
The Tigers have beaten Santana twice this season -- well, he's technically 0-1, but you get the idea -- and have generally not had very many problems with the 29 year old right-hander. So, naturally, this probably means that he will throw 8 shutout innings tonight. Pessimism aside, this wouldn't be a surprise considering Santana's recent results. The Angels are 6-1 in his last 7 starts -- with the lone loss coming against these Tigers -- and his ERA is a healthy 3.63 during that time. His .181 BABIP during that time frame is not sustainable though, so it remains to be seen if and when he will return to earth in that regard.
Remember that excellent second half of the season that Scherzer put together in 2010? After this season, there might not be any reason to. Scherzer has a higher ERA in the second half of 2012 (2.74 compared to 2.47), but is striking out almost 3 more batters per inning (11.4 compared to 8.5) and has already won more games (hooray for run support!). And if he continues this torrid streak that he's on, he could reasonably end the season with an ERA under 3.50.
Since leaving Detroit two weeks ago, the Angels are 8-1. They have scored 57 runs in those 9 games while allowing just 20. This is in spite of Wonderboy's .208/.263/.264 slash line over the past two weeks. Ditto for Mark Trumbo, who is hitting a measly .133/.206/.133 since leaving Detroit. Albert Pujols is still middling along (for him, that is). On the other hand, Torii Hunter is hitting everything right now and will continue to do so this weekend. He will also make at least two spectacular catches tonight. Don't be surprised by it. Erick Aybar will continue to be annoying.
Cesar Maicer Izturis cannot torment Rick Porcello anymore, thankfully.
While Santana is easily the third-best Angels starter in this series, he is still fully capable of shutting down an offense for 7 innings (or more) without a hint of irony. Additionally, his ERA is a full run better at home and the advanced statistical splits are even more telling. Still, with the way Scherzer is pitching right now, the Tigers might only need a run or two to steal a W.
A pitcher's duel featuring lots of walks and escaping jams with multiple runners on base.