Monday’s message: Porcello pitches to protect lead

Monday’s Tigers win was basically the convergence of two different stories. The first, and the bigger one in the short term, was the outburst of a Tigers offense that scored just five runs over three games in Pittsburgh. Chalk part of that up to a rough night for Justin Grimm, but it’s the same lineup that Brad Lincoln tamed over the weekend.

On the other hand, this is largely the same Rangers lineup that has pounded many pitchers this season, and roughed up Rick Porcello for an eight-run first inning back in April at Comerica Park. Porcello was one big hit away a few times from watching a 5-0 first-inning lead — or an 8-0 lead sixth-inning lead — turn into the kind of long night and high-scoring slugfest this ballpark is known for, and the kind of rough outing that encapsulates the ups and downs for Porcello the past few years. Those ups and downs are the same reason that could be cited if the Tigers are enticed into dealing Porcello this summer for short-term help. One source said the Tigers have not shopped Porcello, but scouts are anticipating the possibility.

In the end, Monday could end up being an example why teams would covet the 23-year-old sinkerballer, especially on a team with a better infield defense for ground balls in a smaller ballpark. Or it could be a big reason why the Tigers ultimately keep him. He didn’t really need a great defensive play behind him to hold down the Rangers. With seven strikeouts over six-plus innings and few well-struck ground balls, three of those strikeouts in key situations with runners in scoring position, Porcello showed he can support himself when he has a good sinker working.

He got away with some mistakes, no doubt. His sixth-inning strikeout of Nelson Cruz with two runners on came on a backup slider that went high on him and still induced a swing and miss. But he also had a really good sinker, something he credited to the hot, humid conditions.

“Honestly, I think the hot weather really helped it out,” Porcello said. “With the humidity, I had a pretty good grip on the ball the entire time, which sounds kind of weird. But I felt really good. I felt like I could throw it on both sides of the plate.”

Porcello threw 45 two-seam fastballs, or sinkers, out of 96 total pitches, according to data from MLB.com’s Gameday application collected by brooksbaseball.net. He threw sinkers a lot, and he threw them hard, averaging just under 92 mph while topping out just shy of 94. Nearly three-quarters of his sinkers went for strikes. By contrast, barely half of his 22 sliders went for strikes, but he got four swings and misses out of them.

He won’t have conditions like this all the time. He certainly won’t have them in his next start when he pitches indoors at Tropicana Field on Saturday. But he’ll have the confidence in his pitches. The fact that even he acknowledged his sixth-inning strikeout of Mike Napoli was big beyond that particular game spoke volumes.

“I know for myself, I needed to get out of one of those jams and just come out of this outing feeling pretty good,” Porcello said. “I think it was a big pitch in more than one way.”

13 Comments

He pitched a whale of a game. Pretty impressive.
The point about being a ground ball pitcher on a team that is really not designed all that well to support that kind of pitcher is a good one. Ironically, we have another guy, Fister, that would benefit greatly from a well-honed infield. Both of these guys get a significant amount of ground balls.
Boesch needs help. He’s lost at the plate. One of the worst “hitter’s count” batters I’ve seen in a long time. He’s no better off when he’s 2-0 than he is 1-2. Great potential but seriously flawed mechanics. The number of times he tops the ball or bottoms it (pops up) is too obvious to ignore. He’s lunging at the ball and consequently is not able to have a good look to the bat. Bull Durham will fix him if he gets sent down. And he might if he keeps going bad and Dirks gets back.
.

As to giving credit for Austin Jackson? Anyone with a lick of sense has known that Austin’s problems always revolved around timing the leg kick. It was a foregone conclusion that it had to be corrected. When Austin Jackson comes out and says that he attributes his success to Lloyd, I’ll believe he is a good hitting instructor.
Fielder has been a little frustrating in the fact of the 3-run homers we might have been expecting but I sure like to see a guy who has an idea at the plate and is not afraid to take a vicious cut at a ball. The Blue Jays have several guys who show an unbridled enthusiasm in their swings. They are fun to watch.

good game Rick, very well done against a tough tough team. Glad we pounced on them early. Would you have believed last year that Austin would be leading the team in average? Or we would have someone on the team that had more stolen bases than Jackson? Oh so close to that .500

I guess I am not a fan of the word “blame” I like “accountability” I am fine with Lloyd. I am just not a fan of the Leyland style of baseball. Another opinion is I like Prince. Miggy has shown he can play 3rd base. We need Dirks. Action Jackson sure does know how to play CF. Berry brings so much energy. It is time to step up and get serious about winning. Who will lead the way? Go Tigers!

It’s human nature to assign blame when something doesn’t go right. It’s all throughout history. The fact that a number of factors usually play into an event doesn’t stop the blame game.

I’ll give it to Rick. That’s probably the best I’ve seen him pitch. Great mound presence last night.
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OT: If I was handing out gold gloves for a Detroit 1st baseman it wouldn’t go to “I’m an all-star” Prince Fielder. It would be Miggy hands-down. Lawd have mercy, I had no idea. And, Miguel is behind in the all star voting. Now, that’s just plain nuts. I voted for 2 players, Action Jackson and Miguel Cabrera.

and Ver.

I’m not sure if folks here think I am “blaming” Lloyd. I’m not. I’m actually not that dense to blame any one person for the failings of this team. I just don’t think he is doing his job as well as he should be.
Neither, do I believe, is Leyland.
For the record, I actually like Leyland. I wish he could be the genius he so stubbornly tries to portray.
Good players should be able to play good baseball in spite of the above.
And when losing becomes the norm, something has to change. The pitching coach, the hitting coach or the manager have historically been fall guys (scapegoats) at these times to send a message to the players and to assure fans that things are being done.
The reality of the business is that if a team is winning then you leave things alone, If they are losing with no sign of turn-around, then you make changes. Somebody has to pay. It may still be too early to have a finger on the pulse of this team. But somebody needs to at least be taking its temperature.

To bad the Tigers do not have a legitimate lead off man. You know what I mean. Somebody who can slap the ball to all fields, take lots of walks. A left handed hitter who can drag bunts for hits and who is a professional base stealer; something that Jackson is not. Too bad we do not have anyone like that. Then Jackson could bat second and see a lot more fastballs.
Any idea when the tigers will be sending Quinton Berry back down to the minors so we can get that much needed back up catcher or long relief man.?
Rumour has it than Mr Dumbrowsk is on the road trip trying to find a second baseman. Try Philly; I understand that their 3rd baseman can play a little bit at second.

Amen! Did you say norm? Norm Cash, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Bill Freehan, Jim Northrup,…….ahhhh those were the days.

They were for sure. And Stormin’ Norman was a beaut. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_Cash
One incident that is not included in the wiki above is where Norm stealthily unstrapped the 1st base bag with the base runner (Aparicio I think) unaware. He then took a throw over from the pitcher and slapped a tag on the runner who had no base to go to because Norm had it in his hand!!
That may be urban myth but I’ve heard it a number of times from different sources.

Thanks Dan, A good friend of mine owns the grocery store on Beaver Island and has told me stories of the times that Norm had spent in the Shamrock Bar. So sad that he fell off a dock.

Mud Hens update – went to see them play yesterday, and boy have they just been terrible. The game was pretty good, very good pitching for most of the game, they lost 4-1 (sounds familiar) but there was very little to cheer for on the offense side. I will have to look it up, but I recognized very few players, not sure if they were playing a lot of AA call ups, their cleanup hitter had one RBI so must have been who they brought to replace Eldred. They played the farm team for the Orioles, they had Miguel Tejada playing for them – a name I had not seen as of late and now I know why.

anyways, the lack of offense I saw yesterday does not bode well for anyone worth calling up right now that is for sure, they got the cream of the crop and then some in Berry, gotta figure a way to keep him around right now.

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