Detroit's Miguel Cabrera slides home safely ahead of the tag of Angels… (Leon Halip / Getty Images )
Reporting from Detroit — Will the real Angels please stand up?
Are they the ones who won a baseball-best 27 of 40 games since June 13? Or are they the Angels who are five games under .500 the rest of the season?
Are they the Angels who scored 12 runs in their series opener in Detroit — the most they've scored in a game since mid-April? Or are they the Angels who were lucky to score twice in Friday's 12-2 loss to Detroit — the seventh time they've scored fewer than three runs in 15 games since the All-Star break?
Turns out they're both.
"Sometimes you're not going to score a lot of runs," said All-Star Howie Kendrick who, with a .304 average, is the team's only .300 hitter. "And all of a sudden our offense catches fire. That's baseball.
"Every day you want to go out there and put up a ton of runs. But it's about having your best that day and just trying to win the game."
Fortunately for them, the Angels have found a way to win without scoring. It's called pitching and defense and the Angels, with a 3.38 team earned-run average, are better at it than all but one team in the American League. If they hope to remain contenders, however, Manager Mike Scioscia says they'll have to become more dangerous at the plate, where they rank in the bottom half of the majors in virtually every significant category.
"At some point, to take some pressure off of our pitchers, we do need to start scoring runs on a more consistent basis," he said. "That's been a challenge for us this year."
And it was a challenge they couldn't overcome Friday, when their offense consisted primarily of a leadoff home run by Maicer Izturis and a gift double in the fifth by Kendrick, whose ground ball to third ricocheted off Wilson Betemit's glove into left-center field. Mark Trumbo followed with a single for his team-leading 54th run batted in.
The Tigers scored almost as many runs on an eighth-inning miscue that started with Torii Hunter making a terrific sliding catch of Carlos Guillen's blooper, then inexplicably lobbing the ball toward an unoccupied area of the infield, allowing Miguel Cabrera to lumber home from third.
Not that the run mattered much — the Tigers already had 11 by then.
More than half of those came off rookie Tyler Chatwood (6-7), who gave up a career-high six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Four scored in the sixth, when the Tigers got three consecutive run-scoring hits to break open a tie game.
"They put up three runs on four pitches," Chatwood said. "You just take stuff from it and try to move on."
The Angels, meanwhile, managed five hits in eight innings against Detroit's Rick Porcello, who struck out six and didn't walk a batter.
But just because his players aren't waving their bats, Scioscia isn't ready to wave a white flag.
"We need that consistent offense, that's for sure," he said. "There's a ways we need to go. [But] with virtually no offense we're nine games over .500.
"So if our offense stays status quo I still like our chances."