The Detroit Tigers (9-6) finish their one and only West Coast road trip, a successful one so far, by paying a visit to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (4-10) for a three-game series.
Friday, April 19, 10:05 ET start
Saturday, April 20, 3:05 ET start
Sunday, April 21, 3:35 ET start
Today’s starters: Current Angels have hit RHP Sanchez only slightly better than his overall average (.730 vs. .708 OPS) in a smallish number of PA (55). The only Tiger who’s seen much of RHP Hanson (new to the AL) has been Prince Fielder (good numbers in 18 PA). Anibal has been good and looking better each time over 3 starts. Mixed results so far for Hanson, with the Astros putting up 5 in 5 on him last time out.
The 2013 Angels have been, in a word, disappointing. Mostly it’s the pitching, bullpen included, but while team batting looks OK on the surface, 52 runs in 14 games isn’t getting it done. Josh Hamilton and Peter Bourjous are off to slow starts. Mike Trout has exactly one stolen base thus far, and word has it he’s none too happy playing LF. Their defense hasn’t been anything to write home about. Basically, they’ve played about as well as their record indicates. Are they due to turn it around against the Tigers? I doubt it. Like the Blue Jays before them, they’re probably too good to keep down for long and will be a formidable opponent… next time the Tigers face them.
Do the Angels miss Torii Hunter? They ought to. It warms my heart to compare early returns on Hamilton and Hunter. Torii isn’t going to finish batting .400, and Hamilton will undoubtedly hit 40 HR again if he stays healthy, but… Torii is a lot more fun. Less dangerous to fans in the stands. And he’s also a Tiger. Yay Torii.
The Tigers are in pretty good shape. The starting pitching has been remarkably good – 15 games and counting and not rocked or roughed up or close to it, not even once. The bullpen has come around some. Defense is top echelon. Hot hitting was the top story until the recent “Series of the Strikeout.” Are the bats in a bit of a funk, or do we just have to tip our caps to Mariners pitching that was far and away the toughest Detroit has faced all season?
The Tigers find themselves close to where they were a year ago. You may recall that in 2012, Detroit started 10-5, only to hit their most dismal stretch of the season immediately thereafter (11-21). There are many good reasons that this shouldn’t happen again this year. If all goes at least sorta kinda according to plan, anyway. Good times at present, so let’s enjoy it.
A “law of averages” type prediction for the series might be that Tigers pitching will sag a little but that the bats will come to the rescue, with maybe a couple slugfests in the offing. Tigers hitters should be so glad to get away from Seattle that they might be able to pound or slap their way to a series sweep. Or at the least a series win, I should hope. They’ll be playing in the best baseball weather of the season so far, a kind of early summer preview.
And now the starting lineups, courtesy of a nice person who might be you and probably is…
POST-GAME: Angels 8, Tigers 1. A major RISP failure for Tigers hitters, a waste of a quality Sanchez start (every Tigers loss this season has been a waste of a decent start), another bullpen meltdown, and something of the dreaded Clown Show (Tuiasosopo and Jackson at the LCF wall was the costliest but far from the only clowning). No turning points, no game-winners or -losers, just a game for the taking that the Tigers politely declined to win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Peter Bourjos
HONORABLE MENTION: Anibal Sanchez, Tommy Hanson
NOT SO GOOD: Octavio Dotel, every Tigers hitter but Miggy, Matt Tuiasosopo, Austin Jackson, and… Miguel Cabrera (costly defensive misplays)