Resurgent McCarthy gets the ball against Tigers

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Resurgent McCarthy gets the ball against Tigers

April 15, 2011
DETROIT (6-7) vs.
A's (6-7)

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.

REWIND: Raburn's double dooms A's in loss to Tigers

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.

NEWS: Spotlight on Detroit

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.

REWIND: McCarthy strong, Matsui goes yard in A's win

"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.

NOTES
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).

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.