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Tigers 6, Rays 2: Rick Porcello throws 7 shutout innings in dominant performance

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Final - 6.30.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 6 11 0
Tampa Bay Rays 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 7 0
WP: Rick Porcello (6 - 5)
LP: Jeremy Hellickson (4 - 4)

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Rick Porcello's arm and Austin Jackson's bat led the Detroit Tigers to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Porcello allowed only 4 hits in 7 scoreless innings, the win upping his record to 6-5. Jeremy Hellickson was forced to leave the game due to injury in the 3rd, but the 1 run he allowed was enough for the loss, his record now even at 4-4.

The big hit of the game was Jackson's 3run home run, his 8th of the season. Jhonny Peralta added 2 hits and 2 RBI. while Miguel Cabrera reached base 5 times. Jeff Keppinger and former Tiger Carlos Pena hit solo home runs for the Rays.

The Tigers started the scoring off in the 3rd, knocking out the Rays' starter in the process.

3 consecutive 1 out singles by Austin Jackson, Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera loaded the bases for Prince Fielder. Fielder absolutely crushed a liner back up the middle, catching Hellickson square on the leg, just below the knee. As has been the Tigers' luck, what would have been a 2 RBI single turned into an RBI ground out. The ball bounced straight to 1st base, giving Hellickson an extremely painful assist on the putout.

After getting drilled, Hellickson tried to remain in the game. But the Rays thought better of it, deciding x-rays were on tap. Despite getting into the bullpen early, the Tigers could not take advantage, doing nothing against J.P. Howell, Wade Davis and Kyle Farnsworth. The 3 relievers combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings after Hellickson went down.

Good thing Porcello was on top of his game. Actually, he was more than on top of his game, Porcello was masterful, the Rays pounding his sinker into the turf. The only base runner Porcello allowed through 5 innings reached on a 3rd inning bunt single. In the 6th, the Rays managed to find holes, loading the bases on 3 singles. Porcello got out of the jam by setting down B.J. Upton and Tiger Killer Luke Scott on 2 pitches, keeping the Tigers' slim 1-0 lead.

But pitchers need a safety net. Tigers' pitchers have been working without one far too often this season. It's asking an awful lot from your starter when he has to throw a shutout in order to win a game. It was looking as if that would have to be the case as the game entered the 8th inning.

But Jackson to the rescue! After Brennan Boesch doubled (the first extra base hit for either team) and Ramon Santiago was hit by a pitch, Jackson took a 2 out Joel Peralta fastball over the left field wall. Where ever he was, I'm sure Rod Allen yelled, "Awww Jackson!" as the ball sailed into the seats. The 3 run homer finally gave the Tigers' pitching staff a badly needed cushion and 4-0 lead.

As it turned out, those insurance runs were needed...in a big way.

With a 4 run lead, and Porcello having thrown only 87 (mostly low leverage) pitches, Jim Leyland went against the wishes of the fan base (What else is new?). Leyland pulled Porcello, preferring to start the 8th inning with his set up man, Joaquin Benoit. Unfortunately, Benoit didn't have his best stuff. He served up up solo home runs to pinch hitter Keppinger and Pena, sandwiched around Upton trying to bunt his way on base, a bang-bang play which went the Tigers' way (but could have easily gone the other).

Trying to get those runs back, the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs in the 9th. Cabrera and Fielder walked, Young's single leaving the bases juiced for Alex Avila. But thanks to Pena's stellar glove work, the Rays turned a tough 3-2-3 double play on Avila's ground ball (and Avila's struggles with RISP continues). But before you could yell, "Squander!" the Tigers reloaded the bases for Jhonny Peralta. Perlata gave the Tigers breathing room, but took away a save opportunity from Jose Valverde, when he lined a 2 RBI single to right, extending the Tigers' lead to 6-2.

The 9th was typical Big Potato, Papa Grande allowing a 2 out double, but getting Hideki Matsui (It was 70's night, you had to play Godzilla!) on a lazy fly ball to end the game. Cue Potato dancing.

It bears repeating. Momentum is your next days' starting pitcher. Rick Porcello was all that and a bag a chips against a very good Rays team. His excellent performance was just the elixir the Tigers needed after last night's disappointing loss.

Bullets:

  • With just 1 run scored and next to no offense through 7 innings, the Tigers and Rays combined for 7 runs in the next inning and a half. Baseball sure is a funny game.
  • X-rays on Hellickson's leg came back negative. He's damn lucky, I don't think Fielder could have hit the ball any harder.
  • One positive came from Fielder attempting to murder Hellickson -- It ended Tim McCarver's stupefying dugout interview with Evan Longoria.
  • We had a Kyle Farnsworth sighting...which raised the hair on the back of Tigers fans necks everywhere.The memories of Farnsworth (and that era of Tigers baseball) are not good. Not good at all.
  • There was an actual display of good base running by the Tigers in the 9th. Peralta forced the Rays to cut off a throw home, making sure Fielder scored. Don Kelly then baited a throw home and scrambled back to 3rd safely, allowing Peralta to advance to 2nd. The play didn't lead to another run, but it was nice to play Yakkity Sax and it not be due to the Tigers' defense
  • It was 70's throwback night in Tampa, the Rays wearing faux-70's light/dark blue uniforms. The Tigers broke out their 1972-1984 gray road pullovers with the elastic waistband. A ton of polyesters were killed so ugly unis could live.

3 ROARS:

Rick Porcello: 7 shutout innings, 4 hits, 4 strike outs, no walks. Hell, only a couple of Rays hit the ball hard. This was easily Porcello's best performance of the season.

Miguel Cabrera: You can contain Cabrera for only so long. After an 0-3 night on Friday, Cabrera was unstoppable today. In 5 plate appearances, the big man singled 3 times and walked twice.

Austin Jackson: Without a doubt, Jackson's 8th inning home run was the big hit of the game. I don't want to even imagine the reaction from the fanbase if the Tigers had entered the 8th with a 1-0 lead and, well, you know what happened.

3 HISSES:

Dick Stockton and Tim McCarver:This may have been the worst called game I've ever heard on a national level. Mistakes, mispronunciations, going off on odd tangents, entire innings talking about "getting on a YouTube." It was not a pleasant experience for viewers. When you can say Joe Buck was badly missed...that says it all.

In game interviews:The next time something informative is learned from FOX's snooze inducing dugout interviews, it'll be the first time. Longoria's monotone damn near hypnotized me.

The Rays' faux-throwback uniforms: They were trying too hard.

GAME 77 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Delmon Young's 2 hits were enough to win player of the game honors with 71% of the BYB vote.