Robertson Takes Hill
The Detroit Tigers are finally playing as many expected heading into the season. And they've managed to do it despite all the shuffling of their lineup.
The surging Tigers look to win their fifth straight game as they open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Friday at Comerica Park.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -111 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles +101 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
With a lineup loaded with sluggers, many predicted Detroit (10-13) would make a run for the AL pennant. The Tigers lost their first seven games of 2008, however, and won just two of their first 12.
They have gotten things turned around lately, though.
Detroit is coming off an 8-2 win over Texas on Thursday, and has outscored opponents 42-11 during its winning streak.
Magglio Ordonez hit two of the Tigers' five home runs on Thursday, and Detroit has 11 homers in its last four.
"It was just a matter of time,'' said Ordonez, who has three home runs in his last three games. "Now we'll get into our momentum - our rhythm. We're going to start winning.''
The Tigers got leadoff batter Curtis Granderson back in Wednesday's 19-6 win over the Rangers, and No. 2 hitter Placido Polanco made his return on Thursday. They hope No. 3 hitter Gary Sheffield will be back for this game after missing the last five with a right shoulder injury.
While their top three hitters are getting healthy, left fielder Jacque Jones and Carlos Guillen could miss the series opener with knee injuries. Jones bruised his knee when he bumped into the fence Thursday, while Guillen fouled a pitch off his knee Wednesday.
Ordonez looks to continue his hot hitting against the Angles (14-9). He batted .536 (15-for-28) with five home runs, four doubles, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored in eight games versus Los Angeles last season, and is 4-for-8 with two doubles lifetime against Friday's scheduled starter Ervin Santana (3-0, 2.67 ERA).
On Saturday, Santana gave up one run, three hits, walked none and struck out a season-high eight in eight innings of a 4-1 win over Seattle.
"This might have been the best stuff we've ever seen him have,'' Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's shown that his stuff can play up here in the big leagues in a big way.''
Santana is once again showing he can dominate after going 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA and being briefly demoted to the minor leagues in 2007. The right-hander has posted a 3.46 ERA in winning both of his road starts in 2008 after going 1-10 with a 8.87 ERA in 14 starts away from Angel Stadium last season.
Santana was tagged for eight runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 12-0 loss at Comerica Park on May 24, his only start against the Tigers last season. He is 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA in two career starts at Detroit, compared to 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two home starts versus the Tigers.
Detroit counters with Nate Robertson (0-2, 7.48), who is once again looking for his first win.
Robertson gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings of a 5-3 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Over his four starts, the left-hander has yielded 29 hits and 18 runs in 21 2-3 innings.
Robertson has also struggled against Los Angeles in his career, going 0-4 with a 8.91 ERA in seven starts. In his only outing against the Angels last season on July 27, Robertson was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-6 loss.
Los Angeles is coming off a 7-5 win over Boston on Thursday to take two of three at Fenway Park.
Gary Matthews Jr. went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs, and drove in the go-ahead runs with a two-run single in the seventh.
Vladimir Guerrero, who is batting .238 (10-for-42) with no home runs and three RBIs in his last 11 games, is 9-for-14 (.643) with a homer and a double lifetime versus Robertson.
The Angels went 5-3 against the Tigers last season, but dropped two of three at Detroit.