DETROIT — The Tigers are streaking again. Rick Porcello followed up his last shutout performance with eight solid innings and the offense worked like a charm. Joe Nathan shut down the Yankees with a 1-2-3 inning to hand the Tigers their 5-2 victory over the Yankees in the series opener, and their third consecutive win.
Porcello made just one mistake; he pitched to Jacoby Ellsbury. The center fielder drove in the only two runs for the Yankees, both solo home runs in the fifth and eighth innings respectively. Other than that it was business as usual for Porcello, who induced 13 ground-ball outs (including one force via the ground ball) and had just four flyouts. Of the two strikeouts Porcello had, one struck out Derek Jeter looking in the third inning.
"I felt good with my fastball," Porcello said. "My four-seamer and cutter were pretty effective, I got some ground balls with those. I was babying my change-up early on, started throwing it more later, getting some more outs with it later on." (Dana Wakiji, FOX Sports Detroit)
Porcello could have come out for the ninth were it not for the humidity, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Porcello had tired by that point and there was no point in pressing anything when he'd pitched so well. As a result of Porcello's continued ability to induce ground ball plays and a solid defense at every turn, despite a delayed start, the actual game lasted just two hours and 30 minutes.
"He did a real good job," Ausmus said. "I think from the get-go his sinker was down, which is always the key for him. He's really come a long way in terms of getting left-handed hitters out, which helps against this lineup."
Nathan hasn't had a meltdown for a while, but after so many shaky performances and recent events with the media, fans had been wary to give Nathan any form of trust. For that very reason, Tuesday marked something special. For the first time this season, "Let's go, Joe!" chants were heard as Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning that required just nine pitches, six of which were strikes. The smoothness of Nathan's performance, coupled with the fans cheering him on is something that's been a long time coming.
The offense, meanwhile, has been hitting well for several days and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down. While there wasn't a blowout victory, the well-timed hits were what stood out, with few exceptions. Even then, those who didn't produce offensively were solid on the field and not much was squandered in the end.
"You just have to make adjustments, that's what we did," Torii Hunter said. "A couple weeks ago, we faced him at their place, he was dealing. He was nasty. Today we just tried to get the pitch we can handle because his ball moves so much. We tried to get him up and get the pitches we can handle and capitalize on some of those balls up."
Rick Porcello: The ground-ball guru pitched eight innings of two run ball. He gave up nine hits and walked none while striking out two. His only flaw came courtesy of two solo home runs by Ellsbury.
Rajai Davis: In a bases-loaded situation, Davis drew a walk to force in the first run of the night, putting the Tigers up 1-0. He also hit a leadoff double in the seventh inning, making it in just ahead of the tag. The Yankees didn't challenge because Davis was safe and he later scored on the RBI single by Hunter. He finished 1-2 with a run scored, a double, a walk and an RBI.
Rajai Davis, folks. If he's not standing still, he's doing about 55 MPH on two legs.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 27, 2014
Torii Hunter: A one-out double in the first started Hunter's night. He would not get another until the seventh when he hit an RBI single to make it 5-1, scoring the speedy Davis at third, who'd advanced on the groundout by Kinsler. Hunter finished 2-4 with a double and RBI.
J.D. Martinez: Back-to-back hits in the second and third innings yielded an RBI single in the third, which made the score 2-0 in favor of the Tigers. For his third hit of the evening, Martinez lined a double to left field that put runners on second and third base in the sixth inning. He finished 3-4 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI.
Nick Castellanos: The rookie got a walk in the second and an RBI single in the sixth inning, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead over the Yankees at the time.
Alex Avila: A flyout in the second was deep enough to allow J.D. Martinez to advance to third base, who came around to score. Avila later grounded into a double play in the sixth, but it resulted in a run scored and he gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
I ain't even mad, Avila— Rob Rogacki (@BYBRob) August 27, 2014
Ian Kinsler's offense: It was flat as a pancake. Two groundouts, a groundout into a double play and a strikeout gave the Tigers no offensive production to speak of. Thankfully, his defense continued to prosper unabated. Get the man a Gold Glove already! Now I'm hungry for pancakes.
Kinsler! Leather! DEFENSE!— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 27, 2014
Eugenio Suarez: After a hot-hitting series in Minnesota, Suarez had an ugly night. He got hit by a pitch in the second inning then struck out swinging in his next two at-bats. Thank goodness it didn't affect his defense, most notably when he made a nice running catch in foul territory in the eighth inning.
Iglesias would have caught that AFTER doing a series of increasingly complicated backflips and somersaults— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 27, 2014
Miguel Cabrera: A visibly hobbling Cabrera was 1-4 with a double in the third inning, making it another quiet night for the ailing slugger. Defensively he made a nice pick to rob the Yankees of a hit in the second inning, and turned his AL-leading fifth double play by a first baseman in the eighth inning. So this is a more of a murmur than a hiss.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Justin Verlander has Billy Butler, Porcello has Ellsbury. The ground-ball guru had given up just four dingers in his last 12 games until Ellsbury came to town. He finished 3-4 with two (TWO!) home runs, both solo shots and both on the first pitch. Next time Porcello might want to try another approach.
Anibal Sanchez was scratched from possibly starting one of Saturday's games in Chicago after he suffered a setback on Monday. Sanchez threw with no pain until he threw the change-up from about 60 feet and was unable to move his arm. He was sent for an ultrasound, which showed tearing of old scar tissue. There is concern that Sanchez may be out for the season but that has yet to be fully determined.
As this is fully-promoted note-passing territory, we'd like to pass along this Public Service Announcement to you regarding the Twins/Royals game.
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Billy Butler has been HBP twice. Take note, Verlander - Nolasco has solved the riddle.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 27, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera hit his 270th double as a Tiger in the third inning, tying him with Bobby Higginson for 10th place in team history. It was also his American League-leading 41st double of the season.
- J.D. Martinez has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, and is batting .375 with seven RBI, four doubles, two home runs and two walks during that time.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins gave up the winning run to the Royals, a two-run walk-off home run to Alex Gordon. As a result, the Royals won 2-1 and maintain a 1 1/2 game lead over the Tigers.
- Rick Porcello earned his 15th win of the season and is now tied with teammate Max Scherzer for the AL lead. The 15 wins gave Porcello a new career high, surpassing his previous record of 14 wins (2009, 2011 and 2013).
- In his last eight start since July 12, Porcello has compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.14 ERA.
- Torii Hunter finished 2-4 with a double and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Hunter is batting .361 with seven runs scored, six doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI over his last 15 games since August 10.
- Tuesday's attendance of 40,488 marked the 23rd sellout of the season and the eighth in a row.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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