Instead, both clubs find themselves scrapping for positioning in the Wild Card chase as they prepare to open a crucial three-game set Friday in Anaheim.
The Angels, fresh off a sweep of the Athletics, sit 2 1/2 games outside of a Wild Card spot entering play Thursday. As for the Tigers, they sit just one game back in the American League Central and trail the Angels by half a game in the Wild Card chase.
That's not exactly the position either the Halos or the Tigers thought they'd be in when they added marquee free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively, this past offseason.
The Tigers will turn to red-hot right-hander Max Scherzer for the opener, while the Angels call on Ervin Santana with Friday's original starter, Jered Weaver, out with a sore right shoulder.
Scherzer has been lights-out in his last five starts, going 5-0 with a miniscule 1.03 ERA. He's conceded just four runs while striking out 44 over 35 innings during that span.
"This is the best I've seen him, the way he's pitched lately," catcher Alex Avila said after Scherzer's latest gem in which he tossed eight scoreless innings Saturday against the White Sox. "You can tell he's kind of taking it to the next level, being a guy who always had great stuff and would throw together some really good games and some bad games, to know it's an expected quality start or he's going to give you an outing like this every time. That's a credit to his stuff."
Santana has been on a run of his own, going 4-1 with a 3.63 ERA over his past seven starts. That stretch has saved Santana's spot in the rotation, which was in jeopardy when the Angels acquired Zack Greinke in late July. The only loss in that span, however, came against Scherzer and the Tigers on Aug. 26.
Santana was just 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA as of July 21, but the recent success has improved Santana's record to 8-11 and lowered his season ERA to 5.32.
"I'm doing the same thing I've been doing all year," Santana said after limiting the Mariners to two runs over seven innings in his last outing. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work. It worked today."
The Angels are hoping it works on Friday, as they look to win for the ninth time in their last 10 games and their fourth straight overall.
"This team is playing where we hoped it would, and the primary reason is our pitching is starting to stabilize," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's a critical part of what we need to do."
Tigers: Cabrera wins monthly honor
Miguel Cabrera made a strong statement in his case for American League MVP last month, slugging his way to his second career AL Player of the Month Award.
Cabrera, who also won the award in July 2008, joined Alan Trammell as the only players in franchise history to win the monthly honor more than once. The third baseman hit .357 (35-for-98) in August, with eight homers, 24 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 26 games.
He hasn't slowed down much in September either, as he enters Friday's contest having homered in back-to-back games. For the season, Cabrera is batting .330 with 35 homers and 116 RBIs.
Angels: Weaver unlikely to pitch this weekend
Weaver is not expected to pitch in any of this weekend's crucial series against the Tigers after taking a comebacker off his pitching shoulder in his last outing on Sunday.
The Angels' ace and Cy Young candidate flew back to Los Angeles on Wednesday to visit Dr. Lewis Yocum, who further examined Weaver's sore shoulder. With Weaver not having thrown since taking the shot off his shoulder last weekend, it's unlikely he'll be ready to take the mound this weekend, regardless of the results of that examination.
The Angels now figure to call on Santana to start Friday, C.J. Wilson against Justin Verlander on Saturday and Greinke against Anibal Sanchez on Sunday. Thursday's off-day means everyone will still be pitching on normal rest, despite being bumped up a spot.
Prince Fielder is 4-for-7 with two home runs and five RBIs in his career against Santana.
Mike Trout's four strikeouts in his six at-bats against Scherzer this season are his most against any pitcher.