Continuing their run at a second straight AL West title, the Angels look to hand the Tigers their third straight loss when the teams play the middle game of their series Wednesday night.
With a 5-4 win over Detroit (66-72) on Tuesday night, Los Angeles (84-53) reduced its magic number to clinch the West to eight. The Angels have won seven of 10, posting a 3.40 ERA in that span.
Looking to continue its momentum, Los Angeles is facing a Detroit team that hardly seems inspired. The Tigers, in fourth place in the AL Central, have lost seven of nine. Eight of those games were played at home, where Detroit has lost 17 of 25.
The Tigers will now face Jon Garland (12-8, 4.54 ERA), who is 13-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 25 career starts against them. Garland was outstanding in 7 1-3 innings against Detroit on May 26, allowing four hits and striking out five as Los Angeles won 1-0 in 12 innings.
The veteran right-hander, though, is 1-1 with a 6.87 ERA in his last three outings. He was credited with a win in his last start despite giving up five runs and eight hits in eight innings as Los Angeles beat Texas 7-5 on Thursday night.
Francisco Rodriguez earned a save in that game, and on Tuesday he picked up his 54th in 59 chances. He is three shy of tying the all-time record, set by Bobby Thigpen with the Chicago White Sox in 1990.
“The Angels always find a way to get him into the game,” Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. “He wants the ball.”
Rodriguez is the anchor of a stellar Angels bullpen, which has a 3.53 ERA on the season. Los Angeles relievers hadn’t given up a run in 29 2-3 innings before Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera hit a solo home run in the eighth inning off Scot Shields.
“They’ve been great,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve obviously looked at a lot of guys and see an immediate impact every day, especially our late-inning relief.”
Los Angeles, which won despite going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, faces Detroit’s Zach Miner (8-4, 3.46). He is 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in eight outings since moving into the rotation.
The right-hander gave up one run and six hits in six innings to earn a win as Detroit beat Kansas City 6-3 on Friday night.
Miner has not received a decision in three career appearances out of the bullpen against the Angels, posting a 4.50 ERA. He has won his last two starts - both against the Royals - getting 10 runs to work with.