One year to the day after making a horrific start in Los Angeles for the Tigers, Rick Porcello will face the Angels, who have given him considerable trouble.
Porcello lasted only two-thirds of an inning last April 20, the shortest outing of his career, allowing nine hits and nine runs. The right-hander also struggled in his only other start against Los Angeles last season, when he gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on June 25.
"It's definitely a very good lineup," Porcello said Saturday, adding that he won't be thinking of his rough starts against the Angels when he takes the mound Sunday for the series finale after the teams split the first two games. "They obviously have a lot of depth. They've got speed, they've got guys with power that can hurt you. It's really a well-balanced lineup. I don't know why they've hit us as well as they have."
Detroit is facing a stretch in which they are scheduled to go against five left-handed starters in six games. How the Tigers handle them might very well determine whether the opening month of the season can be considered a success.
The next southpaw in line is the Angels' Hector Santiago, who is 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA. Santiago is coming off his best start of the season against the Athletics on April 14, when he pitched seven innings and allowed one run.
Asked if he needed an outing like that to jumpstart his season, Santiago said, "There's no doubt."
"[In my last start] I was like, 'Let's attack, but let's be under control,'" Santiago said. "I took a little bit from each of those first two games and made it work in this game."
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said one of the challenges that comes with facing a string of lefties is getting at-bats to hitters with lesser splits against southpaws.
"That's part of the reason [Don] Kelly was in there [Friday]," Ausmus said. "Just because of the lefties coming up, I'm not as sure when he will play."
Angels: Freese still out with quad tightness
David Freese was out of the Angels' lineup for a second straight day on Saturday, nursing the tight right quadriceps muscle he sustained during his last at-bat of Wednesday's 12-inning game.
The Angels' third baseman, batting .151/.207/.208 to start the season, took ground balls and batting practice prior to the game and is hopeful he can return to the lineup on Sunday.
Albert Pujols, meanwhile, started at designated hitter for the third time this year, prompting Raul Ibanez to make his second start at first base. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols suffered a bone bruise while hitting his left heel on the base in the first week of the season, but said that it's "nothing significant."
Asked if the bone bruise is still bothering Pujols, Scioscia said, "It's minimal. It's not an issue."
Tigers: Davis back at leadoff with slew of lefties on deck
Rajai Davis' tenure hitting leadoff in Detroit appeared to be on hiatus when the Tigers returned home and regained the designated hitter spot. A few days later, it's back on.
"I've kind of had that in mind against lefties, to have Rajai and Ian [Kinsler] at the top," Ausmus said.
With five left-handed starters awaiting the Tigers in a six-day stretch, it could be a trend.
The purpose is two-fold. First, hitting left-handed pitching was a primary purpose for bringing in Davis back in December, along with his speed. He has become more of an everyday left fielder with Andy Dirks out until June and Tyler Collins back at Triple-A Toledo.
Second, by batting Davis leadoff and moving Kinsler to the second spot, Ausmus frees up Torii Hunter to bat fifth. That's a thought Ausmus has had since Spring Training, stretching out the middle of the order while still keeping two table-setters at the top.
• Davis is tied for second in the American League with six stolen bases, which ties for the most by a Detroit player in April since Josh Anderson stole six times in 2009. Davis was thrown out attempting to swipe second in the first inning of Saturday's game.
• The Tigers are coming off their first win over the Angels since Aug. 26, 2012.
• The Angels have led in six of their nine losses.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.