Halos Take on Tigs

The Detroit Tigers entered this season expecting to again contend with the top teams in the AL. They have turned things around after a slow start, but to reach their full potential, they'll likely need their ace to do the same.

Justin Verlander takes the mound looking to build on his first quality start of the season as the Tigers go for their sixth win in seven games on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Detroit.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -131 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit –131 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

Just one season removed from its first World Series appearance in 22 years, Detroit acquired All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and former All-Star starter Dontrelle Willis in the offseason expecting to return to the league's elite.

The Tigers (11-14) have begun to establish themselves after a disappointing 2-10 start, and they're hoping Verlander (1-3, 5.93 ERA) is also on his way.

The right-hander has led or co-led the team in wins in each of the last two seasons, totaling 35 victories and posting a 3.64 ERA in that stretch. But he opened this year 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA in his first four outings.

He looked more like himself in his last start Tuesday, holding Texas to one run in six innings of a 10-2 win.

"This isn't exactly what I wanted - I want to be going more than six innings - but I'll take it," Verlander said after that game.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland thinks that outing was an important step for his ace.

"I think Justin's close," Leyland told the Tigers' official Web site. "I don't think he's totally there yet, but I think he's close. Getting that first win under his belt could do wonders for him. We've just got to get him back into a consistent rhythm."

The Tigers appear to have found their rhythm as they've outscored opponents 51-19 while winning five of six games. They got two RBIs apiece from second baseman Placido Polanco and outfielder Magglio Ordonez in a 6-4 victory over the Angels (15-10) on Saturday.

The Angels hope to bounce back after having their three-game win streak snapped. However, like Verlander, Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver (1-3, 4.50) has yet to show the form he displayed over the previous two years.

The right-hander went a combined 24-9 with a 3.33 ERA in his first two seasons in 2006 and 2007, but has been reached for 12 earned runs over his last three starts and 20 hits over his last two.

He gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings Tuesday, failing to factor in the decision of the Angels' 7-6 loss to Boston.

Weaver could have a hard time getting back on track in this game. He has allowed 13 runs in seven innings spanning two career starts against the Tigers. He's 1-1 in those games.

Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson is 4-for-6 with two homers in his career against Weaver.

Verlander, meanwhile, is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against the Angels - the only team he's faced and never beaten.

While a return to form for Verlander could make a big difference for Detroit, so could a return to the field for infielder Carlos Guillen, who hasn't played since Wednesday because of a bruised knee. If Guillen can play, the Tigers, who have also missed games from Granderson and Polanco, could put their top lineup on the field for the first time this season.

"We're getting close," Leyland said. "We'll manage either way."

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