Porcello gets Tigers talking, but silences their bats
Detroit — About the only real drama Friday night — as the Red Sox were drubbing the Tigers 10-2 — was a brief verbal exchange between Tyler Collins and former Tiger Rick Porcello.
In the fourth inning, after Collins first fouled off a 3-0 pitch and then popped meekly to center field, he and Porcello seemed to exchange words as he was running back to the dugout.
“It was some typical chit-chat that you have during a game,” said Porcello, who dominated eight of the nine hitters in the Tigers’ lineup to raise his record to 17-3.
Asked to elaborate on the exchange, he said, “No, but maybe Tyler can tell you.”
“He was just mad I couldn’t go to brunch with him tomorrow,” was all he’d say.
The television cameras caught Collins and manager Brad Ausmus having a chat after that at-bat, too, but apparently it was just a routine coaching session.
“He had the green light (to swing on 3-0),” Ausmus said. “I was asking him what his thought process was on 3-0 because a lot of times guys just take a pitch rather than take a pitch in an area. He gave the right answer. He did the right thing.
“You don't just look for a fastball and swing for a fastball. You look for a fastball in an area, then you swing. That's what he did.”
The only real damage inflicted on Porcello, who was making his first start at Comerica Park since being traded after the 2014 season, was off J.D. Martinez’s bat. Martinez was 2-for-2, including his 17th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the second. The rest of the lineup — 2-for-23.
“We're not scoring a lot of runs regardless of the name on the back of the jersey,” Ausmus said. “I think Rick threw well and he's having a really good year. I think he had a little extra incentive to throw well here. I give him credit.”
If there was any extra juice for Porcello pitching back at Comerica, he didn’t let on.
“No,” he said. “I have enough motivation just trying to win games.”
He did say he enjoyed himself, though.
“It was weird being on the other side, but it helped a lot that I pitched against them last year and that we came here last year,” he said. “Today didn't feel quite as strange, so I was able to settle in and enjoy it.”
It wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for Michael Fulmer, one of the three players the Tigers ultimately got back in the trade for Porcello (through Yoenis Cespedes, also Alex Wilson and Justin Wilson). Three and a half weeks after he pitched 7.2 strong innings against the Red Sox in Boston, he gave up a season-high six runs.
“I felt good,” he said. “I think I made some good pitches but I think you just got to tip your cap sometimes. I think they just had our number tonight.”
The Red Sox ambushed Fulmer right out of the gate. David Ortiz, likely playing his final series at Comerica Park, and Jackie Bradley, Jr., both hit long two-run home runs to right field in the first inning.
Fulmer had allowed only one home run in his previous 22⅓ innings. For Ortiz, who has said he will retire after this season, it was his 35th home run against the Tigers, the most against any team outside the AL East.
“It's a good-hitting ball club,” Fulmer said. “I knew that coming in but I've faced them before and we won that game. I was just looking to do the same thing and try to repeat it. They're a fastball-hitting team and they were ready for the fastball and I feel like every time I went inside, they were just ready for it.”
Fulmer got Ortiz out three times in Boston, even struck him out once.
“I am sure he was aware of him, but Fulmer doesn't really seem to be fazed,” Ausmus said. “He knows who Ortiz is, without question. Sometimes it's trial by fire. You have a game plan going in but you still have to execute your pitches.”
Fulmer settled in for a spell, allowing just two hits and walk through the fifth inning.
But, after getting the first two hitters on four pitches in sixth, he gave up four straight singles — Sandy Leon, Brock Holt, Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia — and two more runs.
His night was over. The 10 hits he allowed were the most since May 5 and his one strikeout was a season low.
“He was bound to have an outing like this at some point,” Ausmus said. “He couldn't continue to be as dominant as he was on an every-five-day basis."
Reliever Bruce Rondon was tagged for two more runs in the seventh, a two-run double by Hanley Ramirez.
Not to be outdone, Mark Lowe also gave up a two-run double to Ramirez in the eighth. Three hits and four RBIs for him.
The 10 runs allowed by the Tigers was the most since July 5 when the Indians scored 12 times. The Tigers have now lost nine of 12 and stand seven games behind the Indians in the Central Division.
“You have ups and downs,” Ausmus said. “It's a roller coaster. I've gone through it every year of my entire career, for 25 years. So, it's baseball. Get ready to play tomorrow.”