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As usual, Porcello gets no support

The Sports Xchange
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--RHP Rick Porcello has not seen the Tigers score a run in each of his last three starts while he was in the game, leading to predictable results. Porcello began with four innings of shutout ball Thursday at Kansas City, then limited the Royals to one run in the fifth after they loaded the bases with nobody out. "He showed me a lot," C Gerald Laird said. "Bases loaded and nobody out, and he held them to one run. That says a lot about him." Manager Jim Leyland said, "That inning, he got the ball up a little bit, then the next inning he started to really get it up. I thought he was on a roll until then." Porcello gave up a leadoff home run in the sixth, followed by a double and a single to get chased from the game, but neither of those runners scored. In his previous start, Porcello pitched six innings, the first five scoreless before allowing two runs in the sixth, leaving with a 2-0 deficit. On Aug. 18, he gave up a three-run home run three batters into the seventh, which began scoreless.

--3B Miguel Cabrera got singles (to left and right) on the first two pitches he saw Thursday night, but in his last at-bat, he grounded into a game-ending double play with runners on first and second. Cabrera may have been bothered by his sore ankle or he may have been misled, but he slowed up slightly about halfway to first, and then his closing burst finished just short of avoiding the double play. He may have been watching Andy Dirks' hard slide into second, which forced the shortstop to leap over him, land squarely on his feet, then set and throw to first to finish off the game.

--1B Prince Fielder had two singles and a double Thursday night, scoring Detroit's only run of its last two games. His on-base percentage is .410, which leads the league.

--CF Austin Jackson couldn't be put out the first half of Detroit's three-game series in Kansas City, but he didn't get on base in the second half. Jackson went hitless Thursday after alternating hits with outs Wednesday night. In the opener, Jackson had three hits and two walks.

--C Gerald Laird started one of three games for the third straight series. C Alex Avila got the night off Thursday except for pinch-hitting and drawing a four-pitch walk in the top of the ninth. Laird started because he was hitting .444 (4-for-9) lifetime against RHP Jeremy Guthrie. Avila probably will catch two of the three games against the White Sox even though two lefties are scheduled to start the final two games of the series.

--SS Jhonny Peralta was the only Detroit player to drive in runs in the final 20 innings of the series in Kansas City. The Royals won all three games by one run. Peralta's eighth-inning home run in the opener tied the score at 8-8, but Detroit didn't score again until Peralta grounded an RBI single up the middle with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday night.

--RHP Brayan Villarreal worked two scoreless innings again Thursday night. Villarreal has been more consistent with his slider than in the past, and it sets off his fastball nicely. Villarreal touched 100 mph on a handful of pitches in the inning, the first time he's reached triple digits with his fastball.

--LHP Darin Downs has turned into a nice situational lefty for Detroit since being called up July 3. Downs was brought in after RHP Rick Porcello had given up three straight hits to open the sixth inning Thursday night, primarily because two of the next three Kansas City batters hit left-handed. A runner at third was thrown out at the plate trying to score on an errant pitch, and Downs got the two lefties out to finish the inning, with an intentional walk in between to the only right-handed batter he faced.

BY THE NUMBERS
0 -- Runs Detroit has scored in the last three starts by RHP Rick Porcello. He went six-plus innings Aug. 18, and the Tigers were scoreless while he was on the mound, worked five-plus innings Aug. 24 and didn't have a run scored on his behalf, and the Tigers didn't score during his five-plus innings Thursday.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"It ain't gonna get any easier. We have to go home for a big series, and we'd better bring it or we could fall out of it real quick." -- C Gerald Laird, on second-place Detroit's three-game weekend series with the first-place Chicago White Sox, which comes on the heels of the Tigers getting swept by the Royals in Kansas City.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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