For once, it was almost impossible to pick the Tigers’ player of the game.
Wednesday night, both starter Rick Porcello and designated hitter Victor Martinez deserved to share that honor in the Tigers’ (68-56) 6-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays (61-65).
Porcello (14-8) threw his third complete-game shutout of the season, allowing just three hits while striking out four without walking a batter.
"Obviously Rick Porcello was the biggest factor in this game, nine shutout innings, we literally can’t ask for anything more," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the post-game show.
Martinez provided all the support Porcello needed in the first inning, when his two-out double drove in Miguel Cabrera.
But Martinez was not done.
After Ian Kinsler’s RBI single scored Rajai Davis for a 2-0 lead in the seventh, the Rays ended up walking Cabrera to load the bases.
Martinez hit a 1-2 fastball for his fourth career grand slam.
"To be honest with you, I told the guys in the dugout, I was so into that at-bat, I was so focused on that at-bat that I realized the bases were loaded when I crossed home plate and I saw three guys waiting for me," Martinez told Keating. "I was like, really? It’s a big relief to just to help the team get a win."
Martinez’s numbers after Cabrera walks are unparalleled. He’s hitting .385 with four home runs, 25 RBI and a .795 slugging percentage.
"He’s a professional hitter," FOX Sports Detroit analyst Craig Monroe said. "He’s just so good. Very quiet at the plate, has great rhythm, great timing. You try to sneak the cheese by the rat, you get caught. He’s a difference-maker in the middle of this lineup."
While Martinez was locked in at the plate, Porcello was just as locked in on the mound.
After giving up a double to Ben Zobrist in the first inning, Porcello retired 20 straight batters.
Porcello gave up five runs on 10 hits to Seattle in his last start, and was eager to bounce back.
"It was a lot of fun," Porcello told Keating on the field after the game. "It was nice to come out here and redeem myself after my last start. Put up some zeroes and the guys swung the bats great."
Porcello’s three complete-game shutouts tie him with Miami’s Henderson Alvarez for the league lead.
"Porcello’s somebody we usually don’t talk about when he gets the ball as somebody to save the bullpen, but he did that (Wednesday night)," FOX Sports Detroit analyst Rod Allen said. "He had an outstanding two-seam fastball real early in the game, he mixed in some nice curveballs, he threw some real good change-ups in fastball counts. He was ahead of just about every single hitter and needed very little help from his defense.
"This is one of the best games Rick Porcello has thrown in his major league career, getting his third complete-game shutout."
Thanks to the Colorado Rockies’ 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals (70-56), the Tigers are now just one game back in the Central Division.
Now the Tigers will look to David Price against his former team to try to get the sweep in Thursday afternoon’s game. Pre-game on FOX Sports Detroit at noon with first pitch at 1:10 p.m.