(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Rick Porcello, who allowed nine first-inning runs the last time he faced the Los Angeles Angels, retired them in order in the first Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
He retired the first two hitters in the second. The next hitter was Josh Hamilton, the former MVP who has struggled more noticeably than any hitter in the American League this season. Hamilton swung at one of Porcello's pitches and lost control of his bat so spectacularly that it went flying about 15 rows into the stands up from the far end of the first-base dugout.
That was the highlight of Porcello's evening. Having fetched another bat, Hamilton singled on that at-bat. It began a stretch in which 10 of the next 19 Angels got a hit off Porcello.
Porcello was knocked out during an eight-run fifth. The Angels romped, 14-8, in the series opener. Much of the game was played in a light to moderate rain, and the ball no doubt was slippery. The Tigers made six errors, their most in a game in 31 years, since they made six in a blowout loss in Boston in 1982.
"There are definitely some adjustments to be made," Porcello said.
On Monday, the high-priced Angels' season-long underachieving resulted in a lengthy interview in USA Today with agonized club owner Arte Moreno. Confession is good for the soul. But the Angels are 4-0 against the Tigers this season and have outscored them, 36-12.
A week ago, the Tigers' starting pitching looked like their impregnable strength for the rest of the season. They led the league with 47 quality starts (starts of at least six innings and no more than three earned runs), and they had gotten a quality start in all but two of their last 23 games, an astounding streak.
In the seven games since, the Tigers are 1-for-7 in quality starts, with the one by the unbeaten Max Scherzer. In the other six games, the starters have averaged about five innings with an ERA of 9.42. In his 41/3 innings Tuesday night, Porcello gave up seven earned runs.
"He didn't have very good command," manager Jim Leyland said. "His breaking ball wasn't real good.
"Just a rough night, a rough outing. One of those where you turn the page."
The nine runs he allowed in Anaheim were largely the product of well-placed, softly hit balls. Tuesday night felt like something from last year for Porcello - he yielded a lot of hits. (His .310 batting average against last season was the highest of any AL starter.)
Hamilton, who'd had three three-hit game this season, went 3-for-3 off Porcello. With one run in during the fifth inning, Porcello got ahead of Hamilton, 0-2. But Hamilton pulled the 0-2 pitch hard into right for an RBI single. Two batters later, Porcello was gone.
Porcello had yielded six runs in his last start, all in the fourth inning, five on two Orioles homers. Before that, he'd been on one of the best streaks of his career: seven quality starts in nine tries since that first inning in Anaheim.
Detroit Free Press