Stats & Info: Rick Porcello

Kernels: A week filled with 0s and 1s

July, 6, 2014
Jul 6
Our weekly look at the interesting and unusual in MLB brings you a lot of zeroes and ones.

•  The Cleveland Indians managed just one hit-- a Michael Bourn single via replay overturn-- against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. While all teams get one- or no-hit on occasion, Monday's game came immediately after their one-hit performance (a Lonnie Chisenhall single) in Seattle on Sunday.

Being one-hit in back-to-back games has happened just five times in the live-ball era (2013 Reds, 2008 Astros, 1996 Tigers, 1965 Mets). The Indians are the first of those five to do it against different opponents.

Thanks to solo homers, teams often score despite getting one-hit. That's the case for those other four teams as well. The Indians are the first team to post back-to-back games of zero runs and one hit since the Boston Braves did it against the New York Giants in September 1916.

•  The San Diego Padres also got one-hit on Monday... and won! It was the fourth one-hit victory in franchise history; they of course posted a 3-1-0 linescore against Pittsburgh just a month ago. They also beat the Giants in 2010 and the Cubs in 1975.

In the past 100 years, only one other team has won two games where they got one-hit; the Los Angeles Dodgers did it in 1965 (both games against the Chicago Cubs, including one in which their pitcher, Sandy Koufax, pitched a perfect game).

•  Rick Porcello, who hadn't thrown a shutout in his career before June 26, threw another on Tuesday. Porcello didn't issue a walk, but amazingly, also didn't strike out a single hitter. All 31 batters put the ball in play, 22 of them to the infield.

The last Detroit Tigers pitcher to throw any complete game with zero strikeouts was Jose Lima's eight-inning loss against Kansas City on August 11, 2001. Their last strikeout-free shutout was thrown by Doyle Alexander on April 24, 1989.

Alexander, however, allowed seven hits and five walks in his shutout (impressive in its own right). The last Tiger with a walk-free and strikeout-free shutout was Dizzy Trout, who also did it against the Athletics-- on September 26, 1944.

As for those back-to-back shutouts? Porcello is the first Tigers pitcher with consecutive shutouts since Jack Morris tossed three straight on either side of the 1986 All-Star break.

•  Freddie Freeman's line on Monday: 0-for-1 with three walks and a sacrifice fly. His last walk came with bases loaded, so he drove in two runs.

He's the fourth hitter this season with three walks and a sac fly in a game, but only one other Braves player has had three walks, a sacrifice fly, and driven in two runs since all those stats reached their current definitions in 1954. That one player is Hank Aaron, who had the exact same line as Freeman in a 9-5 win over the Cardinals on June 23, 1959.

•  The Blue Jays and Athletics played scoreless ball Friday before Melky Cabrera's 12th-inning bobble allowed Derek Norris to score from first for a 1-0 walk-off win.

The error means no RBI is credited on the play. The last time Oakland won a game without an RBI? July 4 of LAST season. And that runner was also Derek Norris; he scored on a passed ball for the only run of a 1-0 win over the Cubs. Of the 24 such games in their history, three have come on Independence Day (the other was 1980).

The Athletics hadn't had a 1-0 walk-off win in 12+ innings since July 20, 2004, when Damian Miller's single scored Jermaine Dye in the bottom of the 14th... also against Toronto.

•  Minor-league minute: It doesn't fit the binary theme, but it's too weird not to mention.

Mariners prospect Andrew Kittredge recorded five strikeouts in the eighth inning Tuesday for the High Desert Mavericks of the high-A California League. All were swinging, two at wild pitches; Kittredge faced seven Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers) batters and gave up a run without a ball being put in play. The other batters were a hit-by-pitch and an intentional walk.

It was the first five-strikeout inning in full-season play in exactly three years. On July 1, 2011, Mark Montgomery did it for the Yankees' low-A affiliate, the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs.

And if you're wondering, five strikeouts in an inning has never been done in the majors.

Rick Porcello winning without the whiffs

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
Rick Porcello threw his second straight shutout for the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

That was noteworthy in that he became the first Tigers pitcher since Jack Morris to throw consecutive shutouts. (Morris threw three straight in 1986.)

It also was notable for the manner in which it happened. Porcello became the first pitcher to throw a shutout without issuing a strikeout or walk since Jeff Ballard did so for the 1989 Baltimore Orioles against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Porcello is the first Tigers pitcher with a no-strikeout, no-walk shutout since Dizzy Trout had one against the Philadelphia Athletics in 1944.

He is now 11-4 with a 3.12 ERA and enjoying the best season of his career, having thrown 25 straight scoreless innings.

How he’s winning
Porcello's strikeout rate (15 percent), walk rate (six percent) and home run rates (two percent) are almost identical to what he's done the last three seasons.

The primary reason Porcello is winning is that the Tigers’ defense is making plays behind him at a good clip.

From 2011 to 2013, opposing hitters had a .327 batting average on balls in play against Porcello.
Rick Porcello

This season, their BABIP against him is .266.

Opponents were reaching base on 26 percent of ground balls against him. This year, that rate has dropped to 20 percent.

On Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics, Porcello got 18 ground balls. The Tigers turned 17 of them into outs. That's the most groundouts he's ever gotten in a start. He joined R.A. Dickey and Wily Peralta as the only pitchers to get at least 17 ground ball outs in a game this season.

The sinker has been a money pitch for Porcello this season, as it was on Tuesday night. The Athletics were 1-for-13 against it. Opponents are only hitting .181 versus his sinkers this season; they hit .312, .294 and .278 against it the past three seasons.

Looking ahead
Porcello’s next start will come on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Porcello’s mound opponent should be David Price, whose success is largely predicated on strikeouts. Price has struck out at least nine hitters in each of his last six starts. He has 63 strikeouts during that span.

Porcello has 20 strikeouts in his last six starts. But his 2.30 ERA over that stretch is only a hair worse than Price’s 2.12 in the same time frame.

5 stats to know: Tigers at Red Sox

September, 4, 2013

AP Photo/Elise AmendolaKoji Uehara has retired the last 21 batters he's faced, including 3 straight Tigers last night.
The Boston Red Sox lead the Detroit Tigers by 1.5 games for the best record in the American League. The two division leaders wrap up their three-game series from Fenway Park tonight on Wednesday Night Baseball (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).

Here are five stats the broadcast crew will be talking about during the game.

1. As mentioned, this game features the two best teams in the AL.

According to simulations powered by projections, the Red Sox and Tigers have the best chances to win the World Series this season.

2. Both teams have gotten to the top of the league fueled by solid pitching combined with excellent offense. The Tigers and Red Sox rank first and second, respectively, in baseball in BA, OBP, OPS and runs per game.

3. Rick Porcello hasn’t fared well against the Red Sox in his career, going 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP over 14 innings in four starts.

This season, he’s feasted on AL Central opponents (7-2, 3.08 ERA), but he’s only 1-5 with a 7.36 ERA against opponents from the rest of the American League.

One player Porcello does not want to face tonight will be Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s 6-for-7 with a home run in his career against him.

4. Since becoming the Red Sox closer on June 26, Koji Uehara has a 0.28 ERA and 0.37 WHIP. After retiring the Tigers in order last night for his 17th save, Uehara has now retired the last 21 batters he has faced.

5. With the Tampa Bay Rays struggling, Boston has opened a 5.5 game lead in the AL East after finishing last in the division in 2012.

The Red Sox are looking to become just the seventh team since the current divisional format began in 1995 to go from worst-to-first in its division.

One of the keys to the turnaround has been improved health. Last year, only five hitters played in 100 games. This season, eight hitters have already played 100 games and Jonny Gomes has played 99.

Kernels: Unusual tallies of Ks, (near-)cycles

April, 21, 2013
Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesHow many strikeouts were there in the Tigers-Mariners 14-inning game? Almost this many.
In terms of unusual baseball plays, nothing will top Jean Segura's baserunning misadventures, on which our colleague Jayson Stark wrote the definitive treatises.

But there were some other statistically amazing things to happen in baseball in the last seven days. Here's a run-through.

Whiff City: Tigers, Mariners go Strikeout-Wild
The 14-inning Tigers-Mariners game not only featured five strikeouts by Prince Fielder, it had 35 others as well. Elias reports that it became just the third game since 1900 with 40 or more strikeouts, and the shortest of those games by inning (the others were 15 and 20).

Seventeen of the 18 starters whiffed at least once, setting a new season high (it happened three times last year).

Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez each went eight innings and struck out 12, the first pair of starters to do that since Mike Mussina and Pedro Martinez dueled on May 24, 2001.

And it was the first time neither one got a decision since Mark Langston (10 innings 12 strikeouts) and Randy Johnson (15 strikeouts in nine innings) met on September 16, 1992.

The 21 strikeouts by Mariners pitching also tied their franchise record, last achieved in another Randy Johnson start on Opening Day 1996. And eventually the 82 strikeouts in the series, per Elias, was the most by any teams in the modern era in a three-game set.

Getting back to Fielder, he became the first Tiger in the live-ball era with back-to-back four-strikeout games, and the first AL player to do so since Jay Buhner in 1990.

Saturday was historic for bad starting pitching
The Tigers really should shuffle next year's rotation so that Rick Porcello isn't pitching on the third Saturday in April. He allowed nine runs-- all earned-- while getting just two outs and throwing 47 pitches to 11 batters.

No pitcher had given up nine runs and 10 hits while getting a maximum of 3 outs since... Rick Porcello did it on the third Saturday of April last season! That was the first game of a doubleheader with Texas.

Not to be outdone, Phil Humber gave up eight runs while recording just one out as the Indians batted around in the 1st inning in Houston Saturday night. Humber wasn't even the first Astros starter to leave after one out this week.

Erik Bedard allowed six earned runs and retired just one batter on Monday. The Astros hadn't had two starters record no more than one out in the same SEASON since 2004, and had never had it happen within five days of each other.

The last pitching staff to pull off that dubious feat was the 2000 Rockies, courtesy of Pedro Astacio and Julian Tavarez. And that gets an asterisk because Astacio left the game after being hit with a line drive to lead off the game.

The last team to have two starters allow six or more earned runs while recording a max of one out, within a six-day span, was the 1979 Cubs (Lynn McGlothen and Dennis Lamp).

The capper on this: It was the first time in baseball’s modern era that two starting pitchers allowed at least eight runs with less than one inning pitched.

Feat of the Week: Quasi-cycles
Rockies leftfielder Carlos Gonzalez hit for the cycle on Tuesday. Sort of. Colorado played a doubleheader with the Mets because of snow the day before.In the day game against the Mets, Gonzalez tripled and homered. In the night game he had a double and two singles.

He's the first player to get the homer and triple in one game of a doubleheader and the double and single in the other game, since Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks in 2006.

Also cycle-worthy: The Brewers first five batters on Friday went error-single-homer-double-triple. So the Brewers, as a team, had already hit for the cycle before making a single out.

They were the first team to pull that off since the final weekend of 2006. The Royals' first four hitters (Joey Gathright, Esteban Germán, David DeJesus, and Mike Sweeney) went double-single-triple-homer to lead off a 9-6 win over Detroit.

Scorecard Watch: An unusual double play
Last week, we had a triple play that was unique to baseball scoring-wise. Saturday we had something that sounds more rare than it was-- an unassisted double play turned by Rays centerfielder Desmond Jennings.

Elias tells us that it’s the first “8U” in baseball since Mike Cameron had one in 2003.

Cabrera's historic chase paces Tigers title

October, 2, 2012

John Rieger/US PresswireMiguel Cabrera hit his 44th homer on Monday to help the Tigers clinch the AL Central.
It took 160 games, but the Detroit Tigers finally rewarded their fans with a second straight playoff appearance after clinching the AL Central with a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

This is the Tigers fifth division title since divisional play began in 1969 and the 14th postseason appearance all-time for the franchise.

It is the first time since 1934-35 that Detroit has made the postseason in back-to-back seasons. The only other consecutive postseason appearances in franchise history came when the team made three straight from 1907-09.

Miguel Cabrera continued his historic Triple Crown pace, going 4-for-5 with his AL-leading 44th home run. His 44 homers are tied with Hank Greenberg (1946) and Cecil Fielder (1991) for the fourth-most in a single season in Tigers history. Greenberg set the franchise record with 58 dingers in 1938.

Cabrera currently has the outright lead in all three Triple Crown categories. The last player to win the Triple Crown while having sole possession of first place in each of the three stats was Frank Robinson of the Orioles in 1966.

Three of Cabrera's four hits, including his home run, were to right field. It's the first time since 2008 he's had three opposite-field hits in a game and the fourth time overall in his career.

His 44th homer came on a pitch on the outer third of the plate, marking just the sixth time this season he has homered on a pitch away. Three of those six longballs have come since September 15, and he is now hitting .368 and slugging .947 on outside pitches since that date. Prior to the middle of September, he had a .244/.398/.325 line in at-bats ending in those pitches.

Rick Porcello snapped an eight-start winless streak with his five-inning, one-run effort and won his 10th game of the year. He is the sixth pitcher since 1900 to post at least 10 wins in each of his first four MLB seasons before his age 24 season (age as of June 30).

The others to do this were Chief Bender (1903-06), Bert Blyleven (1970-73), Dennis Eckersley (1975-78), Dwight Gooden (1984-87) and CC Sabathia (2001-04).

Tigers need Porcello to claw back

September, 10, 2012
One of the closest races in baseball is in the AL Central as the top two teams kick off a four-game series tonight.

The Detroit Tigers trail the Chicago White Sox by two games and could pull even in the division race with three wins. The stakes are even higher because it’s the final time the two teams go head-to-head this season.

Both teams enter this series looking like neither wants to win the division. The White Sox hit their high-water mark on August 26 when they improved to 71-55, and the Tigers also peaked on that day with a 69-58 record after beating the Los Angeles Angels.

Since that date, both teams have hit the skids, with the Tigers losing eight of 12 games and the White Sox dropping nine of 13 in that span.

The only MLB team with a worse record than the Tigers and White Sox starting on August 27 is the Boston Red Sox (2-11).

The Tigers lead the season series 10-4 and have won the last seven meetings. That is the longest single-season win streak by the Tigers over the White Sox since they won eight in a row in 1936.

However, the Tigers have failed to capitalize on their success against their rival. Each time the Tigers won a series with the Pale Hose this year, they have followed it up with a prolonged stretch of losses.

• May 4-6: won 2-of-3 games vs Chicago.. then lost 11 of their next 17 games

• July 20-22: swept White Sox.. then lost six of their next eight games

• August 31-September 2: swept White Sox.. then lost five of their next six games leading into this current series

Monday’s matchup
Rick Porcello has not been a winning ticket for the Tigers this past month, as the team has lost his last five starts, during which he is 0-5 with a 4.40 ERA.

However, he’s had a lot of success against the White Sox recently, going 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his last six starts against them. His streak of six straight undefeated starts allowing three runs or fewer in each is tied for the second-longest by a Tigers pitcher vs the White Sox in the Live Ball Era. Only Justin Verlander (7) has a longer streak.

Jose Quintana was one of the White Sox best starters in the first three-plus months of the season, with a 4-1 record and 2.53 ERA in his first 10 starts through mid-July. However, fatigue seems to have set in for the rookie, as he owns a 5.84 ERA with only one win in his last eight outings.

His slider has been really hittable in his last eight starts. Opponents have a .326 batting average and .844 OPS in at-bats ending in a slider since the third week of July, after he held them to a .176/.208/.230 line with the pitch to start the season.

Porcello tries to get 'right' vs Angels duo

July, 16, 2012

AP Photo/Nick Wass
Rick Porcello will have to deal with young righties Mike Trout (right) and Mark Trumbo when the Tigers host the Angels on Monday Night Baseball.
Rick Porcello makes his first start after the All-Star break when the Detroit Tigers host the Los Angeles Angels on Monday Night Baseball (ESPN, 7 ET). He’s 3-1 lifetime against the Angels, but his 5.97 ERA is his highest against any team he’s faced at least five times.

He’ll be facing an Angels offense that has gotten nearly 75 percent of its plate appearances from right-handed hitters this season. That won’t do Porcello much good -- his platoon splits are nearly even across the board.

His defense may not be much help either -- his BABIP is a career-high .354 this season. The Tigers defense allows a .315 batting average on balls in play this season, fourth-worst in the majors.

As a result, his WHIP is at a career-high 1.57 this season, the third straight season it’s increased. The last thing the Tigers need is more baserunners in this game. They’ve allowed 73 stolen bases, tied for fourth-most in the big leagues, and the Angels have 70 steals, tied for the third-best total in baseball.

Two of the righties he’ll have to deal with are young All-Stars Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Those two are carrying an offense that’s fourth in the league in hitting. In 631 plate appearances, they’ve combined for 8.0 Wins Above Replacement. That’s nearly the same total the rest of the team’s offense has managed (8.2) in more than four times as many plate appearances.

Trout has been a true difference maker -- with him in the lineup, the Angels have a .606 winning percentage (40-26), but just a .391 mark (9-14) without him. They’re scoring a half-run more per game when Trout plays and hitting nearly 20 points higher as a team.

Trout has gotten his fair share of attention this season, but a young Tigers outfielder is putting up some similar numbers with much less fanfare.

Austin Jackson and Trout are in the top 10 among AL outfielders in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored.

Despite not being called up until the end of April, Trout leads all AL players in Wins Above Replacement and Jackson is fifth among position players.

Both players put pressure on opposing defenses, ranking 1-2 among AL outfielders in BABIP.

Jackson will be facing Ervin Santana, who has seen things go downhill since his one-hit shutout on June 16.

His last time out was the first time he started a game and didn’t record a strikeout since August 28, 2007, snapping a streak of 141 straight starts with a strikeout.

What’s behind Santana’s struggles this season? His groundball rates are improved and his linedrive rate has gone down, but the numbers he has the most control over are down -- a recipe for disaster.

He’s struggled against lefties, something opposing managers have tried to exploit. He’s had the platoon advantage -- facing a right-handed hitter -- in only 42 percent of his plate appearances, the lowest of his career and the sixth straight season that rate has declined.

Westbrook looks to reverse negative trend

June, 20, 2012

Howard Smith/US PresswireCardinals P Jake Westbrook has a 7.05 ERA in his last seven starts.
The St. Louis Cardinals have had no trouble scoring runs this season, but lately, it has not translated into a winning record. They will look to change that trend when they play the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night (ESPN2, 7 ET).

The Cardinals, who are tied for the best run differential in the National League at plus-50, sit in third place in the NL Central, 4.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. After a hot April, the Cardinals’ winning percentage has decreased in each month since. They are also struggling in close contests (6-11 in one-run games), in large part because of a bullpen that has struggled to hold leads.

St. Louis dropped the series opener to the Tigers, who suddenly are right back in the AL Central picture. While Detroit hasn’t been the contender many expected, it has reeled off three straight wins and has taken seven of its last nine games to pull within two games of the Cleveland Indians in the division. That is despite the Tigers having the third-worst winning percentage in the AL since April 19.

The Tigers, who are a victory away from tying their longest streak of the season, have had St. Louis’ number in interleague play, going 18-9. They also have won all four interleague series they have played this season. And although nowhere near as good in one-run games as last season, the Tigers are 11-12 in such games this year and have not been shut out.

Jake Westbrook will take the hill for the Cardinals aiming to turn around a season that started promising. Westbrook was nearly lights out in his first six starts, but since then has struggled mightily. One of the main reasons is his inability to keep his sinker low in the zone. He has left it up over his last seven starts, when have the Cards have gone 1-6.

Westbrook is 6-8 with a 5.89 ERA in 20 career starts against the Tigers. Keep an eye on his matchup with Miguel Cabrera, who is 6-for-10 with a home run, double and walk in 11 career plate appearances against him.

Detroit will throw Rick Porcello, who has been one of the most hittable pitchers in the league this season. His .315 opponent batting average is the worst in the major leagues among qualifying pitchers this season.

Porcello won his last start June 13 against the Cubs, but it was his first win since May 6. However, he has pitched well at home as of late, going 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in last four home starts.

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
Shaun Marcum held opponents to a .196 BA and .264 Slug pct against his cutter last season.
The Milwaukee Brewers head to the Windy City to open a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs tonight (ESPN, 7 ET). The Brewers went 10-6 against the Cubs last season, their first winning season against Chicago since 2005. The Cubs were 45-34 against Milwaukee from 2006-10.

Starting Pitchers
Shaun Marcum takes the mound for the Brewers in his first start of the season. Marcum is coming off a career year in 2011 – his first in the National League after starting his career with the Toronto Blue Jays - as he set career highs with 33 starts and 200⅔ IP, and tied his career high with 13 wins.

The cutter will be Marcum’s weapon, a pitch he improved and increased his use of last season. In 2011, he threw his cutter 17.7 percent of the time and has a miss percentage of 26.0, compared to throwing it 15.9 percent of the time with a 22.2 miss percentage in 2010. In addition, Marcum allowed only two HR off his cutter last season, compared to seven home runs in 2010.

Chris Volstad is 1-1 with a sparkling 1.71 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers. He’ll be excited to see Milwaukee without Prince Fielder in the lineup. Volstad’s opponents’ batting average against lefties was fifth-worst in the majors last season.

Volstad’s performance against lefties has gotten worse each of his four seasons in the majors. In 2008, he allowed lefties to hit .243 against him, but saw left-handed hitters become more comfortable in each of the subsequent years – hitting .255 in 2009; .292 in 2010; and a career-high .305 against him last season. Only four other pitchers (min. 300 AB) had a higher opponent batting average against left-handed batters last season.

Stat of the Game
Milwaukee entered the season without Prince Fielder for the first time since 2005 (signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Tigers). It’s only three games, but they are feeling his loss as their first basemen (Mat Gamel and Travis Ishikawa) are a combined 2-for-12 with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits. Fielder is hitting .417 with two HR and two strikeouts in three games with the Tigers.

Key Matchup
Chicago second baseman Darwin Barney is 3-for-7 with three doubles against Marcum, but the rest of the Cubs are 5-for-53 (.094) with two extra-base hits combined. David DeJesus is 0-for-16 with four strikeouts against him.

John Fisher contributed to this post
Some notes from Thursday's early baseball games:

Cardinals 11, Braves 4
• The St. Louis Cardinals win for just fourth time in their last 16 games. The Atlanta Braves have lost six of their last eight.

Adam Wainwright snapped his four-game losing streak and improved to 6-0 in his career vs the Braves (best W-L vs them of any active pitcher). He's the first pitcher to start his career 6-0 against the Braves since Ron Robinson (1984-89).

Albert Pujols, who entered with one HR in his last 11 games, hit his first HR vs the Braves since August 24, 2008. He now has 99 RBI, one shy of his 10th straight 30 HR/100 RBI season.

Colby Rasmus tied a career-high with four hits and had his second career multi-homer game. The last Cardinal with a four-hit, two-homer game against the Braves was George Hendrick in 1978.

Jair Jurrjens lost at home for the first time this season (now 6-1).

Rockies 6, Reds 5
• The Colorado Rockies win their 12th straight September game against the Cincinnati Reds, as they sweep their four-game series.

• The Reds have now been swept in a four-game series on the road by both the Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chris Nelson, in his seventh MLB game, won the game with his first career steal of home. It was a straight steal in bottom of the eighth inning. He's the third rookie to steal home this season.

• Nelson was inserted as a pinch runner after Jason Giambi drew a walk. Nelson was then replaced at 1B by Todd Helton to start the ninth. Thus Nelson's ONLY appearance in the boxscore is as a pinch runner who stole home.

• According to Elias, the last time this happened was June 11, 1985. Gary Pettis ran for Bob Boone in a California Angels loss to the Texas Rangers. He stole home and then was replaced by Jerry Narron in the field.

Aroldis Chapman got his first career hold, getting Carlos Gonzalez to ground into a double play with the bases loaded in the seventh-inning. His 12 fastballs averaged 100.3 MPH and maxed out at 103.0 MPH.

• The Rockies get their 19th last at-bat win, tying the Reds for 4th-most in MLB.

• The Reds blew a five-run lead. It's their 21st blown lead resulting in a loss this season, which is tied for second fewest in MLB.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau it was the fourth time this season that the Rockies won a game after trailing by at least five runs, tying the Tigers for the most such wins in the majors. It was the third time this season that the Reds lost a game after leading by at least five runs, tying the Red Sox, Rangers and Nationals for the most such losses in the majors.

Rangers 4, Blue Jays 2
• Texas Rangers' starter Colby Lewis snapped his seven-game losing streak and four-game road losing streak.

Mitch Moreland had a career-high 3 RBI.

Neftali Feliz became the fourth rookie in MLB history with a 35-save season and is two shy of the MLB rookie record set by Kaz Sasaki in 2000.

• Jose Bautista hit his 44th HR, which is tied for third most in a season in Blue Jays history. His 28 HR at home are the 2nd most in Blue Jays history.

Tigers 6, White Sox 3
• The Detroit Tigers win their third straight and have won six of their last eight games.

• The Tigers had 13 hits, all singles. That is the most hits in a game without an extra-base hit by the Tigers since May 11, 2004 when they 14 singles in a loss vs the Oakland Athletics - their last win in such a game was June 12, 1993 vs Toronto (15 singles).

Johnny Damon had a team-high four hits, his 36th career four-hit game and first as a Tiger.

• Rick Porcello improves to 4-0 in his last four starts (5-11 in first 20 starts). He now sports a 4.09 ERA since returning from his minor league demotion. He and teammate Max Scherzer have both been much improved since returning to the club after being sent down following early struggles.

• The Chicago White Sox have lost three straight after winning seven in a row.
Today’s Trivia: The New York Yankees' Derek Jeter has had double-digit home runs in 15 straight seasons, but never eclipsed 30 HR. That’s tied for the third longest such streak. Who holds the record for consecutive 10+ HR seasons without hitting 30 or more?

Quick Hits: On Monday, Alex Rodriguez made it 13 straight seasons with 100 RBI. That tied Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig for the longest streak all time. Not to be outdone, Jeter picked up his 150th hit. He’s now done that in 15 straight seasons. Only Hank Aaron (17) and Pete Rose (16) had longer streaks.

So who else is looking to extend streaks in 2010?
Ichiro Suzuki
• Perhaps the most notable consecutive season streak belongs to the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki. He needs 21 hits in the final 24 games to make it 10 straight 200-hit seasons. He already holds the record with nine straight, having passed Willie Keeler last season.

• Alex Rodriguez needs eight home runs to reach 30 for the season. It would be his 13th straight season with at least 30 HR, which would tie Barry Bonds’ record. Rodriguez currently is tied with Jimmie Foxx for the second-longest streak.

• The St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols is well on his way to a 10th consecutive season with a .300 batting average and .950 OPS. Only two players have double-digit streaks with that combination: Lou Gehrig did it in 12 straight seasons, while Ted Williams managed 17 straight.
Bobby Abreu
• With 112 strikeouts, the Los Angeles Angels' Bobby Abreu has already made it 13 straight seasons with 100 or more. Only Reggie Jackson and Carlos Delgado can share that distinction in major-league history.

• With his 14th straight 20-save season, the Yankees' Mariano Rivera has already broken Lee Smith’s record. With his next save, he will tie Trevor Hoffman’s record of eight straight 30-save seasons. Hoffman’s streak will be coming to an end this year.

• The Washington Nationals' Livan Hernandez (9-10) needs two more starts to join Phil Niekro as the only pitchers since 1901 with 13 straight seasons of 30 starts and 10 losses.
Carlos Pena
• The Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Pena needs four home runs to join Gorman Thomas as the second player in history with three straight seasons of 30 HR with a batting average below .250. Pena currently his hitting .205

• The Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard entered the season hoping to join Babe Ruth as the only players with five straight 45-HR, 135-RBI seasons (Ruth had six). However, at 26 HR and 88 RBI, Howard will have to settle for a tie for the second-longest streak with Sammy Sosa.
• Can the Florida Marlins' Dan Uggla maintain his incredible statistical consistency? To start his career, Uggla has had four straight seasons hitting between 27 and 32 home runs with between 88 and 92 RBI. In MLB history, the only other player to have consecutive seasons in between those totals was Eddie Mathews, who did it for two straight. With 29 HR and 87 RBI, Uggla is essentially already where he normally finishes.

Tuesday’s Leaderboard: In Yunesky Maya and Dillon Gee, both the Nationals and Mets send out starting pitchers who are making their MLB debuts today. It’s the first time opposing starters are making debuts since Rick Porcello and Ricky Romero last season. For the Nationals, it will be their 14th starting pitcher of the season, three more than any other team. With their 11th starter, the Mets are now tied for second most.
Ryan Howard
Key Matchups: Ryan Howard is 9-for-20 with five home runs in his career against the Marlins' Chris Volstad. In fact, all five long balls have come in his last 13 at-bats. The only pitcher that he’s taken deep more is Tim Hudson (six).

As for Hudson, he hasn’t allowed an earned run to the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last three starts, spanning 22 innings. Take a look at the Pirates' roster and the outlook is not great. Active Pirates position players are 3-for-39 against Hudson, which equates to an .077 batting average.

Trivia Answer: Al Kaline had 10+ home runs in each of his final 20 seasons, but never hit 30. The next longest streak belongs to Harold Baines at 18. Both players had 29 as their career high.

Despite losing their ninth straight game, the San Diego Padres will remain in first place in the National League West once play concludes on Saturday. The last time a first-place team lost nine straight games this late in the season and remained in first was the 1995 California Angels.

• The White Sox won both ends of their day-night doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox by identical 3-1 scores. It's the first time they've won both ends of a doubleheader by the same score since Sept. 8, 1992 against the Detroit Tigers (4-3).

• Speaking of the Tigers, Rick Porcello is showing signs of turning things around after a disastrous start to his sophomore season. After going 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in his first 20 starts, Porcello is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his last three.

• The Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver was, once again, a hard-luck loser. He lost his fourth straight start, a 3-1 decision to the Oakland Athletics. However, it was the first time in Weaver's last four starts that that the Angels were not shut out.

• How did the Atlanta Braves' Jair Jurrjens pick up his first road win of the season? He got 24 called strikes against the Florida Marlins, his most in a start this season, and four called strikeouts. Florida batters also went 0-for-11 when Jurrjens was ahead in the count.

• Roy Halladay allowed four home runs for the first time in his career, yet he still picked up the win in the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Halladay joins Dan Haren as the only two pitchers to allow four HR in a win this season. He's the second Phillies pitcher in the divisional era (1969) to win a start despite allowing at least four home runs. In 2004, Eric Milton allowed four HR against the Chicago White Sox, but was the winning pitcher.

BP: Porcello shouldn't rely on Tigers' D

May, 24, 2010
Expectations were high for the 21-year-old Rick Porcello heading into this season. He had finished his first major league campaign with an ERA of 3.96, an impressive feat for a pitcher so young with so little professional experience. He had also closed out the season with a tantalizing look at what the future holds, striking out eight Twins in game No. 163 of the regular season while giving up just a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings. The start to 2010 has been tougher than his debut.

The main differences between 2009 and 2010 for Porcello so far are his BABIP and his walk rate. One of those issues is Porcello's to deal with, while the other, at least in part, can be blamed on the defense behind him. The Tigers rank No. 19 in Defensive Efficiency this season, which has helped Porcello along to a .352 BABIP, well above the league average. In 2009 they were No. 9, and Porcello was at .281 -- some regression may have been expected, but that's about 50 points too much. It's not a surprise though, given his 55 percent ground-ball rate and nearly 2.0 G/F ratio.

As for the walks, they are a side effect of Porcello's attempts to induce ground balls. He throws a ton of pitches low and away, trying to keep the opposition from having anything to drive:

It has worked, insofar as his home run rate has dropped to 0.6 from 1.2, but opponents are swinging at just under 24 percent of pitches out of the zone against Porcello, so they aren't pulling the trigger often enough to help with the young hurler's whiff rate or his walks. They are, however, making contact at an above-average rate at his offerings within the strike zone, which is part of the reason that his BABIP is as high as it is.

While the walk rate wasn't an issue against the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon -- Porcello allowed two free passes over six innings -- the hits allowed were. Porcello scattered nine hits thanks to a porous Tigers defense, but was able to get out mostly unscathed thanks to some timely double plays. He lowered his ERA for the fourth start in a row, and has a 3.26 ERA over 19 1/3 innings pitched this month after a rough April, but he's still not pitching the way he should.

Porcello has strikeout stuff -- he has a four-seamer that tops out at 95 mph and that he throws at 92-93 consistently -- but he sticks with the slower two-seamer for the sake of movement and to induce ground balls. That's why, if you look at his average velocity, you'll see a pitcher who stays around 90 and is reliant on his defense for success, rather than one who is blowing away opponents like you would expect. Until Porcello takes matters into his own hands and stops pitching with the same kind of strategy as a Jon Garland or a Tim Hudson, he's going to have these ups and downs.

Marc Normandin is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

FanGraphs: Why Porcello needs more K's

March, 23, 2010
By conventional wisdom, Rick Porcello is the type of pitcher who is supposed to succeed in the major leagues. He has the perfect pitcher's physique at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds. He can touch 95 miles per hour and throws two wipeout breaking pitches. It takes a special arm to handle the jump from A-ball to The Show, and Porcello proved he has it last year.

At FanGraphs, we track the runs above average of every type of pitch in a pitcher's arsenal. These, called "pitch type linear weights," examine how each pitch thrown alters the expected number of runs scored in the inning. Last season, only 23 starting pitchers -- including seven of the 10 who received Cy Young votes -- had fastballs that were at least 10 runs above average over the course of the season. Porcello was one of them, ranking between Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia at 14.4 runs above average. This is a case in which the statistics match the scouting reports: Porcello has one of the game's best fastballs.

The wonder, however, is why these scouting elements that put Porcello in such high standing don't translate to the strikeout column. Of all starting pitchers to qualify for the ERA title last season, Porcello ranked eighth from the bottom in strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) at just 4.69. Of the 23 pitchers on the best fastballs list, the average strikeout rate was 7.61, and only Joel Pineiro had a K/9 ratio lower than Porcello's. The Tigers right-hander succeeded the same way as Pineiro, with ground balls, at the fifth-highest rate in the majors (Pineiro was No. 1).

Still, to have success going forward, Porcello will need to pitch more like he did in the Tigers' final game last season, when he left the American League Central tiebreaker with the lead after striking out a career-high eight batters. Sustaining this type of performance for Year 2 isn't unheard of, and given Porcello's pedigree, pointing to Bret Saberhagen as an example is fair. Like Porcello, Saberhagen debuted in the majors at age 20, had an ERA 16 percent above league average, had good control and had a below-average strikeout rate. In his second year, Saberhagen went out and won the Cy Young, striking out hitters at a 30 percent higher clip in the process.

The Tigers don't need Porcello to win the Cy Young this season to win their division. But to reach the peak Porcello's stuff suggests, pitching coach Rick Knapp must scrap any instruction centering around pitching to contact. More strikeouts are the fastest way to lower your ERA, and Porcello has the stuff to do it. The sooner the Tigers convince their young star of this, the sooner he joins Justin Verlander atop the rotation.

Bryan Smith is an author of FanGraphs.

One2Watch4: Tigers P Rick Porcello

March, 8, 2010
Detroit Tigers fans still have a bitter taste in their mouths after losing a one-game playoff to the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title this past fall. The silver lining from that game just might come in the form of that game’s starting pitcher, who struck out eight batters in 5 2/3 innings nearly three months shy of his 21st birthday.

Rick Porcello has gone from first-round draft pick of the Tigers in 2007 to No. 2 starter to begin the 2010 season. That makes him One2 Watch4. Porcello went 14-9 in his rookie season in 2009, finishing with an ERA of 3.96. Five of his 14 wins came in May, when he went undefeated and allowed just six earned runs in 30 innings of work (1.50 ERA). In the live-ball era (since 1920), only two Tigers first-year pitchers have won more games than Porcello’s 14.

Rick Porcello

Both of those, Mark Fidrych and Dave Rozema, saw significant declines in wins during their sophomore seasons. Tigers fans are hoping that Porcello can reverse this trend with a solid 2010 campaign.

There is precedent for Porcello increasing his workload in his second season. His 170 2/3 innings pitched were the third-most since 1980 for a rookie pitcher 20 years old or younger. The only two 20-year-old pitchers in recent history to pitch more innings than Porcello in their first MLB season were Dwight Gooden and CC Sabathia. And look at how their workload increased in the next season: Gooden pitched 58 2/3 more innings, and Sabathia threw for nearly 30 more innings.

Rick Porcello

Much has been made in recent years about making sure that young pitchers don’t burn out too early. Their innings are limited, and their pitch counts are monitored closely. Porcello was no exception as a rookie, as he threw more than 100 pitches in just four of his 31 starts (all four after Aug. 28). Even so, according to, the 2,726 pitches thrown by Porcello are the second-most in the past 10 seasons by a rookie 20 years old or younger. (CC Sabathia threw 3,132 in 2001.)

Porcello’s rookie season in 2009 reminded Tigers fans of another starter currently in the team’s rotation. Even though their pitching styles are much different, the end results for Porcello and Justin Verlander in their first MLB seasons were similar. Porcello relies heavily on his sinker, while Verlander prefers to bring the heat with his four-seam fastball. A side note: Just three seasons later in 2009, Verlander led the American League with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings of work.

Verlander went 18-6 in his sophomore season in 2007, making his first All-Star appearance and finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. If Porcello can put up numbers similar to those in his second season, the Tigers will be well on their way to finishing the 2010 season without a bitter taste in their mouths.