DETROIT — Not long after Rick Porcello was named one of the five starting pitchers selected for the All-Star Final Vote, Porcello finished the first inning after facing eight batters and allowing three runs on five hits. The Tigers (48-37) lost their third consecutive game by a score of 7-3 as Porcello tied a season high in runs allowed and the offense was held to seven hits through nine innings.
Porcello entered Sunday night's nationally broadcasted game with a 25-inning scoreless streak going for him, but departed after 5 2/3 innings having given up seven runs and two home runs on 11 hits. His previous two outings had resulted in shutout performances but Porcello struggled to keep the ball down and he struck out only two batters.
"He was a little up in the zone," Ausmus said. "We've said all along the key for him is being down with his sinker, when it gets up it gets flat and you see more fly balls. He made the adjustment, he started to get the ball down in the zone, he got some ground balls, a couple of them found holes and ended up being hits, but he was getting the ground balls that he was trying to get. But that's going to happen sometimes when you get a ground ball pitcher."
Porcello was replaced by Ian Krol, who had just come off the disabled list on Sunday and he faced just two batters, unable to record an out before Ausmus called for Chad Smith to finish the sixth inning. Smith, remained in the game for 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and recording a strikeout before Al Alburquerque tossed a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and strikeout two in the eighth. Joe Nathan, who hadn't pitched since July 2, came out for the ninth inning and gave up two hits and a wild pitch but he struck out the final two batters swinging.
Ausmus stressed, however, that one poor outing does not reflect a pitcher's performance, particularly in Porcello's case where he has remained dominant throughout the seaon. "Certainly, not indicative of the type of pitcher Rick is," Ausmus said. "His last couple starts were outstanding and it just so happened that, timing wise it wasn't great for him. But he certainly deserves to be an All-Star."
Miguel Cabrera echoed that sentiment and believes Sunday's outing should not be the deciding factor for fans to not vote for him in this year's All-Star game. "They need to vote," Cabrera said. "Vote for Ricky, please. He deserves it. He come(s) in every time strong, try to give us a chance to win games. Hopefully he can win that." (h/t Dana Wakiji, FOX Sports Detroit)
As much as Porcello struggled in one start, the Tigers offense has been lacking for the last three days. Much of the quieted offense might be due to needing a day off, as Ausmus has said repeatedly how much the team could use one. After going at it for 13 straight days, it's easy to see why. With the exception of a couple of solo home runs in the seventh and ninth innings, the Tigers had five hits between nine innings and only one to reach scoring position was Austin Jackson when he doubled in the seventh.
Rajai Davis/Miguel Cabrera: The Tigers went into the bottom of the first inning trailing by three runs, but Davis took one back when he hit a leadoff double and Cabrera brought him home with a sacrifice fly after Davis advanced to third on a groundout by Ian Kinsler.
Torii Hunter: The Hunter of
old young made a return in the top of the seventh when he made a bullet throw to Bryan Holaday at home plate for the final out of the inning. Hunter then hit his 11th home run of the season to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning and he finished 2-4 with a single in the fifth in addition to the home run.
J.D. Martinez: On the first pitch of the ninth inning, Martinez hit a solo home run to deep right field, his 12th of the season.
Rick Porcello: Allowed five hits and three runs in the first inning and six hits and four runs (including two home runs) in the fifth and sixth innings. He allowed a total of seven runs on 11 hits, walked one and struck out only two in 5 2/3 innings pitched, matching a season high for runs allowed.
Eugenio Suarez: Was halfway down the third base line in the seventh inning when he tripped in foul territory and was tagged out well before reaching home, costing the Tigers a run.
Tigers offense: Missing for the third consecutive day as the team was held to seven hits throughout the game, which included a sacrifice fly by Cabrera in the first, a home run by Hunter in the seventh and a home run by Martinez in the ninth. Someone may want to send out a search party while the Tigers enjoy a much needed day off.
In the fourth inning Torii Hunter deked the Rays while on first base, attempting to fool them into thinking he'd injured himself before trying to steal second. However, he may have done too good of a job as Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand quickly came out of the dugout to checking Hunter, thinking something was actually wrong with him. However, as soon as Ausmus reached Hunter, both broke out in smiles as Hunter explained what he had been attempting.
Torii Hunter on injury: "I fooled my own team. I was trying to pretend like something was going on, then I was going to steal."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 7, 2014
The ninth inning was interesting. With two out and nobody on, rain began falling heavily and lightning and thunder took over Detroit. Rays starting pitcher David Price was unable to record the final out as he issued back-to-back walks to Suarez and Holaday. As the game was one out from being over, there was no rain delay and Austin Jackson struck out swinging to end the game.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera started a 3-6-1 double play that the Rays grounded into to end the top of the fifth inning. The double play was the ninth of the season started by Cabrera, which leads MLB for double plays started by a first baseman. Last year the Tigers had six all season.
- Rick Porcello was named one of five starting pitchers for the All-Star Final Vote and came into Sunday's game with a 25-inning scoreless streak going. That streak was snapped on the second batter of the first inning and he faced eight batters, giving up three runs on five hits before the inning ended.
- Rick Porcello's 5 2/3 innings was his shortest outing since May 29 against the Oakland Athletics when he gave up two runs, and his shortest outing since May 24 against the Texas Rangers in which he tied his season high of seven earned runs allowed.
- Torii Hunter's solid throw to Bryan Holaday at home plate to record the final out of the seventh inning was the first assist at right field for the season, and the eighth outfield assist.
- Torii Hunter's 11th home run of the season was also the 325th of his career, which ties him with former Tiger Willie Horton for 107th on the all-time leaderboard.
- J.D. Martinez hit his 12th home run of the season on the first pitch of the ninth inning, which gave him a new career high. Five of the 12 home runs Martinez has hit this season have been in the ninth inning.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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