Haren & Angels In Detroit To Tackle Tigers
By: Willie Bee
Friday, August 24, 2012
August has not been kind to the Los Angeles Angels who have seen the opposition score almost at will while falling further behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West race. Manager Mike Scioscia hopes recent developments in Boston signal a turnaround for his club as they conclude a road trip in Detroit against the Tigers this weekend.
Saturday's contest is set for a 7:05 p.m. (ET) first pitch from Comerica Park where rookie Drew Smyly will toe the slab for the Motown crew against LA's Dan Haren. Initial offerings on the MLB odds board had the Halos at -115 with a 9½-run total.
The two clubs each entered the series trying to chase down their respective division leaders while locked in hand-to-hand combat for the two American League wild cards. Detroit was 1.5-games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and in a three-team deadlock alongside Oakland and Baltimore for the second wild card slot, 2.5-games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. Los Angeles was 2.5 behind the Tigers, A's and Orioles for the No. 2 wild card, and 8.5 games south of the Rangers in the West.
Detroit was an ever-so-slight favorite for Friday's contest which was still pending. A 9-run total was posted for the pitching matchup between the Tigers' Rick Porcello and Angels' Zack Greinke.
It goes without saying this series is important for both clubs, but it's especially so for the Angels who have seen their pitching fall apart in August. Three arms at the top of the culpability list are starters CJ Wilson plus Greinke and Haren. The Halos are 2-10 this month when that trio pitches, and the high-profile hurlers have combined for a 7.93 ERA. The club is 8-13 overall in August after completing a sweep in Boston earlier this week, and LA has been outscored 150-119 in the process.
Haren hasn't really been his old self all season, making the first trip of his career to the disabled list in July due to a bad back and being skipped his last start thanks to a day off on the schedule. His first three starts back from the DL were solid efforts, so Scioscia is hoping the extra rest helps get Haren back on track.
He was certainly on track the last time he faced the Tigers at Comerica Park, tossing a 6-hit complete game a little more than a year ago in a 5-1 triumph. Haren is 4-4 lifetime vs. Detroit with a 3.68 ERA.
Smyly is being recalled from Triple-A Toledo to replace the injured Doug Fister who has been temporarily sidelined with a groin pull. Fister is expected to miss just this one start, so Detroit will have to make a roster move before Saturday's game to plug Smyly into the lineup.
The southpaw out of the University of Arkansas opened the campaign as the No. 5 arm in Jim Leyland's rotation, and initially produced solid results before the league started to catch up to him and a strained intercostal muscle eventually sent Smyly to the DL. He'll be facing the Angels for the first time in his young career, with the Halos 21-19 this season vs. left-handers.
Detroit is also dealing with a minor ankle injury to slugger Miguel Cabrera. He left Thursday's contest early with a sore right ankle and was officially listed as questionable for the series opener against the Angels on Friday.
Comerica Park has proved hospitable for the Angels over the years. Los Angeles is 29-25 on this diamond after splitting the four played in Detroit a year ago. The Tigers took three of four in Anaheim a little more than a month ago, the 'over' cashing twice along with one 'push.'