If not for a third inning bunt single at the hands—errr, bat of Elliot Johnson, Rick Porcello might have had a chance at baseball immortality. Or maybe not, but still, it’s fun to speculate; up to that point, Porcello had not allowed a baserunner. Porcello got Will Rhymes to ground out—Johnson moved up to third base on the play!—and then induced a pop up to get out of the mini-jam.
The Rays did not threaten against Porcello again until the sixth inning, when Rhymes, Desmond Jennings, and Carlos Peña singled to load the bases with only one out.
More after the jump
Porcello got B.J. Upton to pop out and then got Luke Scott, legendary Tiger killer, to ground out to end the threat.
Let’s take a look at how Porcello beat the Rays tonight:
Desmond Jennings had the only really hard hit ball off Porcello, which came in the sixth inning; all the other contact off him was fairly weak.
Some disagreed with Leyland’s decision to pull Porcello after seven strong innings, and when Benoit gave up two homeruns it looked like it might have been the wrong decision. Benoit hasn’t been the Tigers’ best reliever the last two season because of luck, however. He managed to limit the damage to the two solo shots—a potential missed call at first base played a big role in the inning—and passed the baton on to José Valverde. Valverde had a relatively easy ninth inning (IN A NON-SAVE SITUATION!!!) and nailed down the 6-2 victory.
The Tigers send rookie Drew Smyly to the mound tomorrow against Alex Cobb.