Like Boston Red Sox counterpart John Lackey, the Detroit Tigers’ Rick Porcello will carry a win streak into Saturday night’s game at Fenway Park.
Porcello, though, hasn’t been at his best in recent matchups with the Red Sox.
The right-hander will try to reverse that trend as he goes for a sixth consecutive victory in helping the Tigers seek their 10th in a row away from home.
Porcello (6-1, 3.22 ERA) has played a significant role in helping the Tigers (25-12) post the best record in the majors and the AL’s lowest ERA (2.72) among starting rotations. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last five starts and yielded one run over six innings in a 4-1 win in Baltimore on Monday.
"I feel good," Porcello told the team’s website. "I think there’s a lot of things I can keep improving on. I want to keep getting better, don’t want to plateau."
Porcello has been in the valley in his last three starts against Boston (20-21), going 1-2 with an 11.85 ERA. He matched a career high by giving up nine runs over five innings in his only matchup last season, a 20-4 rout at Fenway on Sept. 4.
The Tigers did a much better job of stifling Boston in the first meeting this season, a 1-0 victory Friday. Max Scherzer pitched six innings as Detroit secured its longest road win streak since opening its 1984 World Series-winning campaign with 17 consecutive victories.
Torii Hunter singled in the lone run in the first inning in return to Fenway, where he fell into the bullpen while trying to catch David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam in Game 2 of last year’s AL championship series. Porcello took the loss pitching in relief in that game.
Lackey (5-2, 3.57) will seek to cool off Detroit, winners in four straight and 15 of 19, while earning a fourth consecutive victory. The right-hander has a 2.17 ERA during his streak, spanning four starts, and gave up two runs over seven innings in Sunday’s 5-2 victory at Texas.
Lackey is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in his last four regular-season starts against Detroit but went 6 2-3 innings in a 1-0 victory in Game 3 of the ALCS.
Boston is 5-10 in one-run games after Friday’s loss, and the absence of Shane Victorino due to an ailing left knee hardly helped. The outfielder’s status is unknown for Saturday’s game.
"I don’t think we’ve hit our stride on both ends of the baseball,” losing pitcher Jon Lester said. "The nights we pitch well and hit well, we don’t play good defense. Nights we don’t pitch well, he hit well."
Ian Kinsler, batting .339 in his last 15 games, is 15 for 35 (.429) with four homers in his career versus Lackey. Victor Martinez, hitting .387 in his past eight contests, is 11 for 27 (.407), and Rajai Davis is 11 for 28 (.393).
Among Red Sox players with more than two at-bats against Porcello, only Mike Napoli is hitting better than .300, going 4 for 12 with two doubles and a triple. Ortiz, who is 18 for 36 with five home runs during a nine-game hit streak, is 2 for 7 with one homer lifetime against the right-hander.