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Saturday, September 8, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 6, Tigers 1

By Ramona Shelburne

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- This wasn't the first time this season Mike Trout left the crowd at Angels Stadium chanting, "M-V-P," as he exited the field. It was just the latest game in which the Los Angeles Angels' sensational rookie dazzled from start to finish. And it couldn't have come at a better time for the surging Angels, who beat the Detroit Tigers 6-1 on Saturday night to keep up in the taut American League wild-card race.

Trout led off the game with a towering homer off Detroit ace Justin Verlander and closed it by robbing Prince Fielder of a home run with another dazzling catch to help the Angels to their 10th win in their past 11 games.

Meanwhile, Detroit's MVP candidate, Miguel Cabrera, was long gone, having been ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

The Good:

Pujols continues popping: Remember when Albert Pujols was a disappointment? His awful April and May are feeling like a long time ago with how hot he has been in the second half. Pujols went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI and his 41st double of the season, making him 28-for-76 (.368) with five homers, 15 runs scored and 19 RBIs over his past 18 games. He's now 8-for-13 against Verlander all-time.

Wilson's got his groove back: After an 11-game winless stretch that lasted nearly two months, C.J. Wilson won his third straight with a solid 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball. Wilson is back to doing what he does best: getting ahead of hitters, keeping the ball on the ground and avoiding landmines. He improved to 12-9 on the year with the win.

Hungry Howie: Howie Kendrick might be dealing with a lingering knee injury, but it hasn't affected his swing any. The second baseman continues to swing a hot bat and pick up the slack for the struggling Mark Trumbo. On Saturday his first-inning double drove in two, giving him 12 RBIs in his past 14 games.

The Bad:

Izturis leaves with rib injury: Maicer Izturis got the start at third base in part because he owns a .423 career average against Verlander. But his night was pretty much a disaster. He struck out in his only at-bat to end the Angels' four-run first inning, then committed a throwing error in the fourth inning that led to the Tigers' only run. Izturis seemed to hurt himself on the play and had to leave the game with a rib cage injury.

Another scary moment: Plate umpire Jeff Kellogg had to leave the game in the second inning after taking a foul tip off the bat of Torii Hunter off his mask. Kellogg had a headache and was examined by the Angels' medical staff. He remained on site throughout the game so he could be monitored.

Trumbo's day off: One night after pinch hitting for the guy who has been one of his most reliable hitters this season, Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Trumbo the night off to "catch his breath." Trumbo is hitting just .173 over his past 34 games to drop his average from .306 to .269 and has homered just three times in his past 41 games. The Angels will need him to come around if they are to make any noise in the playoffs.