April 15, 2011
DETROIT (6-7) vs.
Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND (AP) -- A three-game winning streak spurred by solid pitching has the Detroit Tigers in position to reach .500 for the first time this year.
They're hoping Rick Porcello can avoid another rough outing to get them there.
The right-hander tries again for his first win of 2011 as the Tigers attempt to beat the Oakland Athletics for a fourth consecutive time Friday night.
Detroit (6-7) is on its longest winning streak of the season after dropping seven of its first 10.
The Tigers, who went 81-81 last season, are benefiting from some superb efforts on the mound. Over the last three games, the staff has compiled a 2.00 ERA to overcome an offense that's had a .231 batting average and scored 11 runs.
They needed another terrific outing Thursday, as Phil Coke and two relievers combined for a three-hitter in a 3-0 win at Oakland (6-7) in the opener of a four-game set.
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Porcello (0-2, 9.00 ERA) will try to keep the run going, but will also need to overcome his own issues as he continues to struggle living up to the lofty expectations after being Detroit's first-round pick in 2007.
The right-hander was 14-9 as a rookie two years ago, but slumped to 10-12 in 2010. He was 1-2 with a 7.91 ERA through his first four starts last year, and 2011 is proving to be worse.
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Porcello has turned in identical lines through two games, allowing five runs and nine hits in five innings of defeats to Baltimore and Kansas City. The 9-5 loss to the Royals on Sunday saw him labor through 97 pitches, issue three walks and an commit an error on a wild pickoff throw to first.
"As the game went on, I didn't do a good job of mixing my pitches," Porcello said. "I got into a pattern, and they got all over that and started waiting on my sinker."
He's lost his last three starts versus the A's with a 6.75 ERA. Porcello didn't pitch in Oakland last season, and is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA there.
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Some production from slumping Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez could help Porcello end his woes.
Cabrera hasn't managed a hit in seven at-bats over the last two games after batting .385 with four homers and 10 RBIs over the previous 11.
Martinez's slump has been going on for six games as he's 2 for 21 with one RBI. However, he owns a .329 average in 20 games at Oakland and is 6 for 14 with four doubles and a homer off Brandon McCarthy, the A's scheduled starter.
McCarthy (1-0, 3.52) has been impressive through two starts after missing all of last season with shoulder problems. The right-hander turned in another strong performance Sunday, yielding two runs and nine hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win at Minnesota.
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"Any time I go out there, (command) has got to be one of my strong points," McCarthy told the team's official website. "I have to be able to hit my spots and move the ball around. I did a pretty good job of that (Sunday) and was able to stay consistent."
McCarthy is 1-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 games - five starts - against the Tigers. He last faced them on May 19, 2009 while with Texas, and allowed four runs in seven innings of a 4-0 loss.
Mark Ellis is batting .217 following his 0-for-3 performance Thursday after totaling three hits in the previous two games. He's 4 for 8 with two homers off Porcello.
The road team has won five of the last six games played between these two teams. ... The Tigers have won back-to-back games for the first time this season, with both victories coming via walkoff hits. ... Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Miguel Cabrera is hitting an MLB-best .390 (101259) against AL West pitching (minimum 40 AB). ... Gio Gonzalez has allowed less than two runs in 13 of his last 21 starts (zero runs in seven of those 21 starts). ... Hideki Matsui, who went deep against the White Sox yesterday, has hit just one home run over his last 35 games against the Tigers (including the postseason). ... Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Coco Crisp has been successful on 50 of his 55 stolen base attempts. Over that span, Crisp's 90.9 stolen base percentage is tops in the majors (minimum 40 attempts).