American League aces will square off as two teams with pennant hopes -- the Tigers and Angels -- meet for four games in Anaheim beginning Thursday.
Detroit starter Max Scherzer isn't approaching the outing any differently, even though he's up against Garrett Richards, who is in the middle of a breakout season.
"Richards has been throwing the ball really well this year, so I have to bring my 'A' game," Scherzer said. "There's no other way around it."
The Tigers' 11-game winner battled neck spasms in addition to the Indians in his last start, when he gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Uncharacteristically, he walked four batters.
"Outside of my last start, I've also done a good job of minimizing my walks so that I'm not giving them free baserunners, because those walks always seem to come back to bite you," he said.
Scherzer acknowledged the immense challenge presented by the Angels' lineup, which he said "really forces you to be on top of your game in all aspects of it."
He seems up for the task, however.
"I love it," he said. "You never measure yourself against the worst. You never say, 'Oh, I beat the worst team in baseball. I'm the best.' No. You measure yourself against the best.
"You want to go up against the best, you want to see how you fare against the best competition, because when you have success against the best, that's when you can make evaluations about yourself."
Richards also doesn't pay any mind to the opposing starter. He's coming off an outing against another AL ace, and he seemed unfazed in that matchup.
Against the Mariners and Felix Hernandez, Richards went eight innings and gave up only one run.
Tigers: Discomfort in upper quad sidelines J.D. Martinez
Detroit was without one Martinez, Victor, for about two weeks before the All-Star break, and it was without another on Wednesday.
J.D. Martinez sat out the finale against the D-backs due to what manager Brad Ausmus referred to as an upper quad injury. Ausmus doesn't expect the injury to keep Martinez out long, but he didn't explicitly say he'd be back on Thursday.
Martinez first felt the injury after an eighth-inning single on Tuesday.
"Running down, he just felt a little something," Ausmus said.
Angels: Green placed on disabled list
The Angels placed utility man Grant Green on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a lumbar strain.
First baseman C.J. Cron was called up from Triple-A to replace him.
Green hit the game-winning single for the Angels on Sunday but hadn't played since, tweaking his back in the weight room.
"It seemed like today it was going in the wrong direction," manager Mike Scioscia said on Wednesday, "so we're going to shut him down for a little bit."
The Angels will continue to rotate left field, first base and designated hitter, with Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols getting starts at DH as needed, and the left-handed-hitting Efren Navarro and right-handed-hitting Cron probably splitting time filling in.
• The Tigers took the previous series between these teams this season, winning two of three games in Detroit.
• The Angels are 10-2 in their last 12 games against Tigers and 40-15 since 2001 in home games against Detroit.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.