The righty has been the strongest member of the Angels' staff this month, and will take the hill in Detroit on Sunday with a 2-0 record and 3.16 ERA since the Deadline. While that vaunted trio of Jered Weaver (2-2, 4.85), C.J. Wilson (0-2, 8.78) and Zack Greinke (2-1, 5.79) has taken its lumps, Santana has overcome some mid- and early-season inconsistencies to turn in three quality starts this month and provide stability.
"We saw it in Ervin and saw the potential he has," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Santana's recent run after his last outing. "He was on just a tough roll where he really just didn't have a lot. But Ervin has done it before. We've seen him bounce back after some tough starts, and the run that he had, that was a little longer than we've seen, but we have a lot of confidence in him."
So if the Tigers, still within shouting distance of the American League Central crown and just one game out of a Wild Card spot, felt fortunate to be lining up with the back end of the Angels' rotation, they've now got their work cut out for them.
But so will the Angels, who will face Max Scherzer, whose 186 strikeouts trail only teammate Justin Verlander's 192 for the MLB lead.
Like Santana, Scherzer has been stellar in August, working to a 3-0 record and 2.52 ERA in four starts.
Both Santana and Scherzer lead their teams into a crucial rubber game Sunday, a potential momentum-builder as both teams head into stretches of primarily in-division play before reconvening for another series in Anaheim from Sept. 7-9.
Angels: Pujols out until at least Tuesday
Scioscia said Albert Pujols will be available to pinch-hit Sunday against the Tigers, but he does not plan to have his superstar start in the series finale.
Pujols had suggested that his right calf injury might only keep him out until Saturday, but was not happy with a pregame running workout Saturday at Comerica Park and was therefore shut down by Scioscia and the Angels. He anticipates returning when the Angels return home for a series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.
Tigers: Cabrera Still DH-ing
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he expects Miguel Cabrera to DH again, rather than play third base, in Sunday's series finale against the Angels.
Cabrera injured his right ankle in Thursday's win over the Blue Jays, when he left the game with soreness in the second inning. Since then, he has not played his regular third base, though he has served as the Tigers' DH in both of the first two games against the Angels.
Leyland said prior to Saturday's game that he does not anticipate Cabrera will return to the field before Tuesday's series opener in Kansas City.
Howard Kendrick did a strong job filling in for Pujols in the three-spot in the Angels' order Saturday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
With his next home run, Mike Trout will become the youngest player in MLB history with a 25-homer, 40-stolen base season and the first rookie to do so. He's also just one run away from being the second Angels rookie to tally 100.