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Tigers 6, Rays 0: Rick Porcello fires third shutout of season

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The Tigers rode the arm of Rick Porcello and bat of Victor Martinez to a 6-0 victory over the Rays. A dominant Porcello tossed a three hit shutout, given all the support he would need by Martinez driving in five runs with a double and grand slam.

Brian Blanco

The Detroit Tigers turned a pitcher's duel into an easy win by scoring five times in the seventh inning, riding the right arm of Rick Porcello to a 6-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Without most of the fan base realizing it, the Tigers have ended their losing skid, now winners of five of their last seven games.

The night was dominated by a pair of Tigers - Porcello and Victor Martinez.

The 25-year-old Porcello (W, 14-8) continued his breakout season, recording his 14th win thanks to a dominant complete game shutout, his third of the season. He gave up just three hits, striking out four while not walking a batter. Porcello had no-hit stuff, retiring 20 consecutive Rays at one point.

"Nine shutout innings, we literally can't ask for anything more." -Brad Ausmus in praise of Rick Porcello

Martinez supplied the majority of Detroit's offense, driving in five runs thanks to a pair of extra base hits - a first inning double and seventh inning grand slam.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (L, 9-10) was good, just not as good as Porcello. He held the Tigers in check over 6 2/3 innings, exiting the game having allowed just five hits, striking out seven. He was ultimately charged with three runs, one inherited runner coming around to score.

Odorizzi finally off the mound, the Tigers made the most of it.They would go on to rip reliever Kirby Yates for two hits, a walk, and three runs in just 1/3 of an inning.

The Rays could do nothing on offense, held to three hits, only one base runner advancing as far as third base.

As for the Tigers, they out-hit the Rays a mere 7-3. But four of those hits came during their five run uprising in the seventh. Martinez reached base three times on a walk and the two aforementioned hits. Ian Kinsler added an RBI single during the big seventh inning rally. The Rays refused to pitch to Miguel Cabrera, who also reached base three times, walking twice and scoring a pair of runs.

Post-game, Brad Ausmus confirmed sidelined starting pitcher Justin Verlander would make his next scheduled start, set for this Saturday in Minnesota.

ROARS:

Rick Porcello: There aren't enough superlatives to describe Porcllo's night. He was that damn good in shutting out the Ray. About the only negative (if you can call  it that) was Porcello missed a "Maddux" by just five pitches, finishing his light-out performance with a pitch count of 104. Porcello also missed recording a "Porcello" (zero walks or strikeouts in a shutout) by striking out four.

Dave Clark: We tend to single out third base coaches only when they screw up. So Clark deserves a roar for his first inning decision to send Miguel Cabrera home on Victor Martinez's double into the right field corner (MLB.com video). Noticing right fielder Kevin Kiermaier failed to grab the ball cleanly and figuring it would now take a perfect relay to nail the runner, Clark waved the lumbering Cabrera around. The Rays couldn't make the play, an off-line throw allowing Cabrera to score from first base. The game would turn into a pitcher's duel for the next six innings, making the run that much more important.

Victor Martinez: In a close, well-pitched game, a timely hit (when they are coming few and far between) can make all the difference. Martinez's first inning double plated Miguel Cabrera all the way from first base, giving the Tigers a 1-0 advantage. Martinez then turned what had been a close, well-pitched game into a not-so-close one with another timely hit - a seventh inning grad slam, increasing the Tigers' lead to 6-0.

Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler: It appeared the Tigers were bound for another tight, gut-wrenching nail-biter before Davis and Kinsler jump-started the big five run seventh inning for Detroit by creating a two-out rally out of nothing. When the inning appeared to be heading into the bottom half, Davis doubled and scored on Kinsler's single, extending the Tigers' lead at the time to 2-0.

HISSES:

Andrew Romine: Romine is getting more playing time of late over Eugenio Saurez, who has slumped both at the plate and on defense. But Romine was completely overwhelmed at the plate tonight, earning a Golden Sombrero with a 0-for-4, four strikeout game.

NOTES:

Miguel Cabrera came up gimpy after sliding home during his first inning rumble 'round the bases. When head trainer Kevin Rand came over to check him out, Cabrera just waved him away.

Cabrera would remain in the game, because he's Miguel Cabrera.

The Tigers loaded the bases with two down in the sixth when Rays starter Jake Odorizzi issued walks to Cabrera and Victor Martinez, then a line drive single off the bat of J.D. Martinez. The Rays put the shift on for Nick Castellanos, stationing second baseman Ben Zobrist behind the bag. First pitch swinging, Castellanos tried to take a low and outside breaking ball to the area Zobrist vacated. Good idea, but Castellanos hit the ball off the end of his bat. Zobrist was able to range to hus left and make the play on the slow roller, ending the inning,

In the seventh, the Tigers put together another scoring threat when Rajai Davis doubled off the left center field wall. This time Detroit did get a badly needed two-out RBI hit, Ian Kinsler dropping a humpback liner into short center. Davis raced home to make it a 2-0 game, ending Odorizzi's night in the process.

Make it all six of the Tigers' runs.

Kirby Yates replaced Odorizzi, loading the bases on a Torii Hunter single and just plain pitching around Cabrera. The count 1-2 on Victor Martinez, the Tigers' DH viciously turned on a fastball - Right. Down. The. Middle. Martinez would cap off the two-out uprising by depositing his 24th home run of the season well into the right field stands. The grand slam gave Rick Porcello plenty of breathing room at 6-0.  He didn't need it, but it sure was nice to see.

STREAKS AND STATS:

Rick Porcello has been outright dealing post All-Star break. He entered tonight's game with a 2.92 ERA and 1.108 WHIP in the second half despite a BABiP higher post break than in the first half - .321 compared to an unsustainable .274. But thanks to the Tigers' anemic offense, Porcello was just 1-3 (and the Tigers 1-5) in six second half starts before tonight.

It was more of the same from Porcello against the Rays. After allowing a double to Ben Zobrist in the second inning, Porcello went on an out binge, retiring the next 20 Rays in order. A Ray didn't reach base until James Loney led off the bottom of the eighth by singling to center.

Porcello is the fourth active pitcher with 75-plus wins before turning 26. The others - King Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and CC Sabathia.

Porcello recorded the Tigers' first complete game since, well, Porcello went nine innings while shutting out the A's July 1. Porcello's three shutouts are the most by a Tiger pitcher in a single season since Jeff Weaver had three in 2002.

Porcello has thrown three shutouts in 2014 in which he's allowed four hits or fewer. Last Tigers pitcher with more was Jack Morris with five in 1986.

Max Scherzer is the only other Tiger with a complete game this season. David Price has two, but both were as a member of the Rays.

Victor Martinez's grand slam was the fourth of his career. His last was a little more than a year ago, against Boston on June 22.

You do not want to mess with Martinez when the bases are juiced. In seven plate appearances with the bases loaded this season, Martinez is hitting .750 (3-for-4) with 10 RBI and three walks.

Tonight;s victory gives the Tigers a one game lead over the Seattle Mariners for second wild card. The Mariners fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3. Detroit also has a chance to cut the Kansas City Royals' lead to one game in the Central. The Royals are losing to the Colorado Rockies as this recap goes live.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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