Rick Porcello continues to look like one of the best young pitchers in baseball, while Brandon McCarthy has resembled an almost entirely different hurler since being traded to the New York Yankees.
They’ll take the mound as visiting New York tries for a season-best sixth straight win Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers (6 p.m. pregame, 7:08 first pitch on FOX Sports Detroit).
Porcello (14-8, 3.10 ERA) tossed a three-hitter Wednesday in a 6-0 victory at Tampa Bay. He entered the season with no shutouts through 149 starts but has thrown three this year.
The right-hander is the first Tiger to blank three teams since Jeff Weaver in 2002, and he’s thrown 165 1-3 innings – 16 2-3 shy of his career high in 2011.
"There’s a stage in most good pitchers’ careers where they turn a corner, so maybe we’re seeing that with Rick," manager Brad Ausmus told MLB’s official website.
Porcello is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last five starts against the Yankees, losing 1-0 in New York on Aug. 7 after going seven innings.
McCarthy is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts since being acquired from the Diamondbacks, for whom he was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA.
"We knew he was a better pitcher than his numbers indicated," manager Joe Girardi said.
McCarthy also comes off a complete game, limiting Houston to four hits in Thursday’s 3-0 victory.
He defeated Detroit 2-1 on Aug. 4, giving up one unearned run in 5 2-3 innings to improve to 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA in his last three matchups.
Two games ahead of the Yankees and one-half game behind Seattle for the second wild card, Detroit (70-59) collected 18 hits in a 13-4 win at Minnesota on Sunday after having 17 in an 8-6 victory Saturday night. The Tigers’ 60 hits in that series were their most in a four-game set since registering 60 at Chicago from July 6-8, 1956.
Victor Martinez went 8 for 17 with five RBIs over the last four while rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez was 8 for 15. Martinez is 6 for 15 against the Yankees this year.
Sunday’s outburst came despite the absence of Miguel Cabrera, who sat out after aggravating a sore ankle Saturday. Ausmus expects him to play Tuesday.
"We’ve been kind of waiting for this for a while," Ausmus said. "… It was nice to have those guys pick Miggy up."
Cabrera has hit .345 with five homers and 14 RBIs over his last 15 home games against New York (68-61).
The Yankees’ best equalizer against Porcello may be Jacoby Ellsbury. He was 3 for 5 with three RBIs, including his 11th home run and 1,000th career hit, in Monday’s 8-1 win over Kansas City.
Ellsbury has batted .444 over his last seven games, has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 matchups with Detroit and is 8 for 13 with two homers against Porcello.
Mark Teixeira (hamstring) and Brett Gardner (ankle) sat out Monday for the Yankees but are expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday.
New York took three of four from the Tigers at home earlier this month, limiting them to six runs and 24 hits.