The Los Angeles Angels are uncertain how long they’ll be without their staff ace. With the way they’ve been playing lately, though, it might not matter.
Los Angeles (75-63) took Friday’s opener 3-2 as pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo drove home Peter Bourjos with a two-out single in the ninth inning. The Angels won for the ninth time in 10 games and improved to 13-3 since Aug. 21 to pull within two games of Baltimore for the AL’s second wild-card spot and one game back of Tampa Bay.
“We’re just playing together, trying to do all the little things,” Callaspo said. “We’ll keep playing together and see what happens in the end.”
They might have to play without Jered Weaver for a while.
Weaver was originally slated to start the opener, but the Angels announced Thursday they would skip his turn because of biceps tendinitis.
Prior to Friday’s contest, the 16-game winner admitted he can’t throw his slider or fastball without pain. It is uncertain when he will pitch again, but he insists he’ll return before the end of the season.
“It just all depends on how it responds,” he said. “You’d like to just skip the one start, and (see) signs it was getting better. There’s no timetable.”
Weaver’s teammates will likely have their hands full in facing Verlander (13-7, 2.73 ERA), but the way they overcame a stellar outing from Max Scherzer to win Friday should be a confidence booster. Scherzer allowed five hits while striking out nine through eight innings.
The Tigers (73-64), whose best chance to make the playoffs is to win the AL Central, wasted a chance to pull into a first-place tie with Chicago and are one game back. They also are 3 1/2 games out of a wild card.
“We’ve got to go win games, simple as that,” Jim Leyland said.
Giving the ball to Verlander would seem to give the Tigers a good shot at evening the series.
Verlander allowed a leadoff homer Sunday against Chicago, before settling down and giving up just three more hits the rest of the way. The right-hander struck out 11 in eight innings of a 4-2 victory, and in the process, achieved his fourth consecutive 200-strikeout season and sixth straight with 200 innings pitched.
“He wants to step up in the spotlight,” catcher Gerald Laird told the Tigers’ official website.
This is his first start against the Angels since July 31, 2011, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He has a 1.74 ERA in his last four starts in the series.
Los Angeles counters with C.J. Wilson (11-9, 3.85), who slowly seems to be regaining his form following an 11-start winless stretch.
Wilson has won back-to-back starts after posting an 8.78 ERA in his previous five. The left-hander gave up two runs in five innings in Monday’s 8-3 victory over Oakland while dealing with a blister.
He struggled mightily in his lone start against the Tigers this season on July 18, permitting seven runs, eight hits and five walks in six innings of a 7-2 loss, and will have to be careful facing Prince Fielder.
The slugger hit his 25th homer Friday, and is batting .419 with three home runs, five doubles and six RBIs in his last 12 games. He is also 13 for 26 with two homers and six RBIs in eight games against the Angels this season, and 3 for 5 lifetime against Wilson.