Hard-throwing right-handers Justin Verlander(notes) and Jered Weaver(notes) are the crown jewels of the first round of the 2004 Major League Baseball draft, having posted double-digit win totals in each of their 10 combined full seasons in the big leagues
Verlander (12-6, 3.74 ERA) was selected second overall by Detroit (53-55) in 2004, while Weaver (10-7, 3.04) fell to the 12th pick and Los Angeles due to contractual demands by agent Scott Boras. They have been the most consistent first-rounders from their class, and the only All-Stars along with Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes(notes).
Weaver leads the majors with 162 strikeouts, while Verlander’s 138 rank fifth in the AL.
The Tigers starter is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the Angels in 2010, and allowed one run and struck out seven over 8 1-3 innings to hand Weaver his first loss in a 5-1 Detroit victory May 2. Weaver matched his shortest outing of the year, giving up four runs over 4 2-3 innings while striking out six.
Weaver has gotten used to facing tough opponents on the mound, going 2-3 with a 3.27 ERA in his last five starts while opposing Texas’ Cliff Lee(notes) twice, Oakland’s Trevor Cahill(notes), Seattle’s Felix Hernandez(notes), and Boston’s John Lackey(notes) in that span. He outdueled Lee on Sunday by allowing one unearned run over seven innings of a 4-1 victory.
Verlander is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his last five home outings, but did not get a decision Saturday at Boston after yielding two runs in seven innings of the Tigers’ 4-3 loss. Angels veterans Torii Hunter(notes) (.324), Bobby Abreu(notes) (.368) and Hideki Matsui(notes) (.333) have all had success against him.
The Tigers have won five straight over the Angels after losing the first two meetings this year.
These teams looked like contenders at the All-Star break, with Detroit trailing Chicago by one-half game in the AL Central and Los Angeles 4 1/2 games behind Texas in the West. Both those deficits have ballooned, with the Tigers a major league-worst 5-17 since the break and the Angels 7-12.
Detroit dropped three of four to the White Sox this week including a 6-4, 11-inning loss Thursday. The Tigers failed to take advantage of Ryan Raburn’s(notes) two-out, three-run homer that tied the game in the ninth.
“We got the big one there in the last inning to tie it up,” manager Jim Leyland said. “But we couldn’t hold it. We didn’t do much offensively the whole game.”
Los Angeles (54-56) also enters the weekend on a down note after being swept in a three-game series at Baltimore, with its starters posting an 8.80 ERA against baseball’s worst team. Manager Mike Scioscia kept the clubhouse door closed to address his team after Thursday’s 5-4 loss.
“This is obviously a disappointing series and a disappointing game tonight,” he said. “It’s not as much the effort; we’re battling back. But I think our approach at times isn’t what we need to do.”