Porcello pitches Tigers to 10th consecutive road win
MAY 17, 2014 10:11p ET
Brad Ausmus is going to learn eventually that managing in the major leagues isn't quite this easy.
After Saturday's 6-1 victory over the Red Sox, Ausmus now has a .684 winning percentage in his six-week career. It's a little early to send him to the Hall of Fame, but among of the 592 men who have managed at least 25 games in their careers, only four have higher winning percentages -- and they all managed in the 1870s.
That is obviously a statistical fluke -- managers winning two out of every three games don't tend to see their careers come to an end -- but there's another stat that is even more impressive. In the 114 seasons of Tigers baseball, only three managers have led Detroit on a 10-game road winning streak: Ausmus, Sparky Anderson and Red Rolfe.
(Apparently, the Tigers need to hire more managers from Dartmouth. While Sparky never got closer to the Ivy League than Wrigley Field, both Ausmus and Rolfe graduated from one of the country's top universities.)
Of course, Ausmus is hardly going to take the credit for the fast start. After Saturday's game, which clinched Detroit's first series win in Boston since 2006, he put everything at the feet of the offense and, more than anyone, Rick Porcello.
"We spread things out a little offensively, top-to-bottom, but the story of the game was Rick," he said. "That was probably his best outing of the season because he had a great sinker, he threw some good changeups early and he mixed in some outstanding curveballs."
Porcello is now 7-1 with a 2.91 ERA, which would make him the ace of almost every team in the majors. In Detroit, though, he's the fourth starter behind Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer and defending ERA champion Anibal Sanchez.
"He's throwing the ball great right now, and part of it is because his sinker gets better as the game goes on," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "When he gets tired, he gets more dip on the pitch, and he has learned to work with that.
"Instead of trying to overthrow the pitch when he's getting tired, he's just throwing it naturally and he's getting the extra sink."
Porcello agreed with both his manager and catcher.
"The biggest thing tonight was that I had an outstanding sinker-curveball combination," he said after his sixth straight win. "That was really big."
This is Porcello's sixth season in the Tigers rotation, which makes it hard to remember that he's only 25 years old -- an age when major-league players are still heading for their prime.
"He gets better every year and he gets better every game," Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "You can see that he has the confidence to throw all of his pitches for strikes, and that makes him a lot tougher."
Sanchez returns in front of a national audience Sunday night with a chance to give the Tigers a rare sweep in Boston. Whatever happens, the first two-thirds of this road trip have been a rousing success.
"It's fun to come to the ballpark right now," Avila said. "We're playing good baseball, and we've been playing good baseball for a while. That's a lot of fun."