In each of the past two years, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera has beaten out the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout for the AL MVP.
If he can continue his strong start, it might be Trout finally taking home the hardware this year.
The Angels center fielder will try to register another multihit game Friday night and help his club earn a 10th consecutive win over Cabrera’s Tigers.
Cabrera did not win a second straight Triple Crown this past season but did enough in voters’ minds to once again beat out Trout. Their performances in the past two seasons have played a part in the debate between baseball traditionalists who largely favor Cabrera and sabermetricians who often side with Trout because of his more varied abilities, namely his speed in the outfield and on the basepaths.
Trout has stolen just one base this season after swiping a combined 82 bags the past two years, but he’s gotten off to a better start at the plate than Cabrera. Trout has boosted his average to .323 by going 12 for 30 in his last six games while hitting three of his five home runs.
He went 2 for 5 and scored the tying run in the ninth inning Wednesday to help the Angels (7-8) avoid a three-game sweep to Oakland with a 5-4 comeback win in 12 innings.
Chris Iannetta ended the game with a solo shot.
"Team building and chemistry building. The more moments like this, the more you can define yourself. And the better you’re going to be," Iannetta told the team’s website.
Cabrera is hitting .250 in the first 12 games this season, well below his career .320 mark. He has one home run after hitting 44 in each of his MVP campaigns.
The Tigers (7-5) also avoided a third straight loss Thursday, as Ian Kinsler’s career high-tying fourth RBI in the sixth inning Thursday put Detroit ahead for good in a 7-5 victory over Cleveland.
"I would like to win some more games, but right now we’re playing OK, and just waiting to erupt a little bit and run off a bunch of wins in a row," said Kinsler, who also hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
Cabrera doubled and singled after going 3 for 24 in his previous six games. He’ll try to build on that effort while helping keep the Angels’ Jered Weaver winless.
The right-hander has given up at least four runs in each of his first three outings and has been given a combined seven runs of support. Weaver (0-2, 5.79 ERA) gave up four runs, three hits and a season-high four walks over 6 2-3 innings Saturday against the New York Mets, and was charged with three of those runs in his final frame.
Weaver avoided the loss when his teammates scored three runs in the ninth in an eventual 7-6 loss in 13 innings.
He gave up one run over seven innings in his only start against Detroit last season June 27 at Comerica Park but did not get a decision in a 3-1 win. He’s 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in his last three matchups.
The Angels will have the major league’s longest active win streak versus one opponent if Weaver can help lead them to another victory Friday. They won a series-best 14 in a row May 8, 2002-Aug. 23, 2003.
The Tigers’ Drew Smyly (1-0, 0.00) will try to snap that lengthy skid in his first start this season. A pair of rainouts and four off days meant Detroit needed only four starters, and the left-hander has made a pair of relief appearances while biding his time.
Smyly did not get a decision in his only start against Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 2012.