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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, August 24, 2012

One pitch costs Porcello for second straight start

For a guy that gives up a ton of hits, you’d think one or two wouldn’t stick out like they do.

For Rick Porcello, who leads all of Major League Baseball with 186 hits allowed, there have been two hits — no, make that two PITCHES — that have made the difference between him winning and losing.

In his last start, it was a fastball low and away that Baltimore’s Chris Davis turned into a three-run, seventh-inning home run in a 3-2 loss for the Tigers.

Friday night, it was a hanging slider that Howie Kendrick drilled to left-center field, bringing in the only two runs the Angels would need in a 2-1 win.

“Obviously, it turned out to be a little bit of a mistake,” Porcello said, admitting that he couldn’t remember back-to-back games he’d pitched that hinged on so slim a margin.

“I think there’s been times where it’s been one or two pitches that have either gone my way or haven’t gone my way, but I don’t think that late in the game. When you get sixth, seventh inning, you’ve gotta have your best stuff. That’s the time when you’ve gotta find something within yourself to execute those pitches. Obviously both outings, my past two outings, it’s been late in the game like that we’ve been getting hurt. I get into that situation again, I gotta dig down deep and make a better pitch.”

Normally a ground-ball pitcher who relies sometimes almost solely on his sinker to get outs, Porcello had his slider and change-up working against the fastball-happy Angels Friday night, getting four strikeouts to go along with eight ground-ball outs through the first five innings.

He’d get into trouble in the sixth, plunking Torii Hunter after a Maicer Izturis leadoff single, but — following a strikeout of Kendrys Morales — looked like he had gotten himself out of the jam when he got a slow-rolling ground ball to third off the bat of Mark Trumbo.

But Hunter’s aggressive slide into the bag at second forced a bad throw from second baseman Omar Infante, breaking up the double play chance, and keeping the inning alive for Kendrick.

“He got down on Omar pretty good,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s just good baserunning, that’s a veteran player that still runs good and plays the game right, plays the game hard and he got down there and broke it up.”

“It’s the little things. Yesterday, we win because Delmon beats out a double play. That’s the way the game is. You play hard, and little things like that, sometimes you overlook, are huge,” Alex Avila said.

Porcello didn’t blame Infante, but rather himself.

“It was a tough turn. He came in hot, and it’s tough for anybody to stand in there, when you’ve got these guys sliding into you like that,” Porcello said, “so it’s one of those where, if you get the double play, it’s nice, but I’ve got to keep pitching, and not think about that.”

He didn’t.

After getting a called strike on a slider, and a second strike when Kendrick offered a bunt attempt at a 91-mph four-seam fastball, Porcello hung an 0-2 slider that Kendrick drilled to the gap in left-center, bringing in Izturis from third and Trumbo all the way from first, making it a 2-0 game.

Porcello would be done after the fateful sixth inning, the second start in a row the Tigers have failed to score while he’s in the game. Coming in to Friday’s start, Porcello’s run support average of 4.92 ranked tied for 19th-most in MLB.

He insisted that didn’t put any more pressure on him, as a guy who’s going to give up hits.

“No. That’s baseball. Their guy pitched very well tonight, obviously, and that’s just part of the game. I’ve got to go out there and, regardless of whether we put up 10 or put up two, I’ve gotta go out there and pitch and get guys out,” Porcello said, admitting the improved control of his breaking stuff was a silver lining. “That’s a good sign, obviously, but end results not what we want.”


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