ANAHEIM -- Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, two of the game's brightest stars, face off this week in a crucial series between two playoff contenders currently on the outside looking in.
Cabrera and Trout enter the series in a virtual tie in batting average (.330) as they duke it out for the American League MVP award. With a lot of buzz surrounding both players entering the series, the two hitters will take center stage with a chance to bolster their cases for the award.
The Tigers slugger overtook Trout for the OPS lead a few days ago and he is hitting .368 over the past 10 games. He homered on Wednesday against the Indians and he opened up September batting 6-for-16 with seven RBIs after winning AL Player of the Month in August.
He is fourth in the AL in homers with 35, second in RBIs with 116 and fourth in runs with 89 as he makes a case for AL MVP honors.
His toughest competition comes from Trout. The pair rank toward the top in most offensive categories.
The rookie outfielder leads the AL with 108 runs, 44 stolen bases and he has 24 homers and 75 RBIs. The phenom didn't even make his debut until April 28, which gave Cabrera an extra month on him this season.
Cabrera's MVP-case was aided the last time the teams faced each other. Trout was held to just an infield single through three games in Detroit at the end of August and he'll face much of the same pitching this series.
Tigers try to keep even keel for important stretch
ANAHEIM -- Falling just short of the playoffs if the season were to end Friday, the Tigers have a shot to move up in the standings over the next week by facing a pair of teams looking down at them.
Up first is a three-game set against the Angels, who entered the day a half-game ahead of the Tigers in the Wild Card race. Detroit entered the day three games back of Oakland for the second spot with the Angels just ahead of them.
Next on the schedule is a key four-game series against the White Sox, who lead the Tigers by a game in the AL Central.
Although there is no denying the added importance of facing a pair of teams ahead of them in the standings in September, the Tigers are approaching the next week like any other.
"We know what we have to do to win the games and the way we have to prepare," catcher Alex Avila said. "Coming into this series or going into the next series, it's going to be just like when we went into the first week of the season facing Boston or whoever."
While many players won't admit it, Avila said it's human nature to notice how the other playoff contenders are doing down the stretch.
Getting a chance to face those teams instead of having to hope another team gets the job done, the Tigers get a chance to either position themselves down the stretch or fall even further behind in both the division and Wild Card races.
"Because of these series, there might be a little bit more added intensity," Avila said. "You've got to take a step back and take it as a one game at a time like any other game and any other series. We've got to be as relaxed and prepared as possible."
Former Tigers manager Moss passes away
Les Moss, who helped manage Tigers greats such as Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Jack Morris on their way through the minors before getting his shot as Detroit skipper in 1979, passed away last week following a lengthy illness. He was 87.
Moss spent 13 seasons as a Major League catcher from 1946-58 before making his name as a Minor League manager in the White Sox organization. He served as an interim manager in 1968 and spent four years on the coaching staff in Chicago.
Moss came over to the Tigers organization in 1975 and led Double-A Montgomery to back-to-back Southern League titles, including with Parrish and Trammell in 1976. He followed Parrish in 1977 to Triple-A Evansville, where he worked with a fiery right-hander in Morris.
Moss' success in Evansville earned him the chance to replace Ralph Houk as Tigers manager in 1979. He led Detroit to a 27-26 record, but with Sparky Anderson available after his firing from Cincinnati, the Tigers made the change in June.
Moss stayed in the game, working as a pitching coach for the Cubs and Astros in the 1980s.
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jason Beck is a reporter. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.