When the Detroit Tigers announced that Rick Porcello had made the team during Spring Training, do you think anyone imagined that the 20-year-old rookie would be leading the pitching staff in wins by Memorial Day weekend? Yet that's where we stand after Porcello won his fifth game of the year (and fourth straight decision) Friday night. (Thanks to Kurt for informing me of this fact via instant message.)
The Colorado Rockies became the third consecutive team to score just once against Porcello, and that was in his final inning when they were finally able to string a few hits together (and were helped by a balk). The Rockies had a chance to get on the scoreboard first, in the third inning, but Josh Anderson threw out Dexter Fowler at home for the final out. The Tigers scored twice in their half of the inning, and never gave that lead back.
But they came close to doing so in the ninth inning. Filling in for Fernando Rodney, who had pitched the last three days, Joel Zumaya came in for the save (the role most everyone hopes he'll eventually take on full-time). Unfortunately, the ride had a familiar roller coaster feel to it. After walking Brad Hawpe to lead off the inning, Zumaya left a fastball up in the strike zone, which Seth Smith blasted for a two-run homer. Zumaya put two more runners on base (hitting one of them with a pitch), but was finally able to strike out Fowler with a 100 m.p.h. fastball to close out the ballgame and the Tigers' seventh straight win.
What's more improbable: Porcello leading the team in wins at this point, or Brandon Inge leading the team in home runs? And if Inge hitting his 12th homer wasn't impressive enough, consider that he smacked the ball to right field. And he did so on a pretty good pitch, a fastball which Ubaldo Jimenez placed low and away. But it's been that kind of season for Inge, who's hitting everything hard.
And with the Rockies' pitchers doing a good job with the Tigers' middle of the order (excepting the homer by Inge), the bottom part of the lineup created most of the offense. Gerald Laird and Ramon Santiago went a combined 4-for-6, scoring two of Detroit's four runs.
Comment of the Night:
Well, Nuke’s scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man’s here. We need a live… is it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose’s glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present.
A quote from Bull Durham will always win favor with the COTN Selection Committee.
And thanks to the Royals' 5-0 loss to the Cardinals, the Tigers now have a four-game lead in the AL Central.
AL Central Standings
Right now, that's the biggest lead in the American League. Only the Dodgers, with a nine-game lead over the Giants in the NL West, are further ahead of their nearest competitor.