The Detroit Tigers turned to a 20-year-old rookie to snap their worst slump of the season.
Thanks to Rick Porcello, they are back in control of the AL Central.
Porcello gave up two runs on four hits in six innings and the Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
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“It was big for us to come out and put an end to that,” said Porcello, who won’t turn 21 until Dec. 27.
Porcello is 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA in nine starts since Aug. 1 as the Tigers have pulled away from Minnesota and Chicago in the division race.
“I didn’t know how I would feel in this situation – I didn’t even know that I would be here,” he said. “But I feel great. I just want to keep improving, because I don’t think I’m a finished product.”
Porcello spent last season in Class A, but Tigers catcher Gerald Laird has no concerns about the Tigers relying on him in a pennant race.
“He’s got that swagger, because he knows he belongs here,” said Laird, who had two RBIs to help Detroit’s cause. “He’s just getting stronger – he’s throwing 96 or 97 now.”
Another rookie, Toronto’s Ricky Romero, took the loss. Romero (12-8) also went six innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty well – he’s done a nice job this year for a rookie – and I don’t think he’s out of gas,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “He just had one bad inning today.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead on Laird’s RBI single in the second, and added three more runs in the third. Placido Polanco led off with a walk and took third on Magglio Ordonez‘s double. Miguel Cabrera followed with an RBI single, Marcus Thames drove in a run by beating out a double play and Laird finished the inning with his second run-scoring base hit of the game.
“I thought I was pretty good today, other than the one inning that killed me,” Romero said. “After that, I got back into a groove and got some quick outs, but I basically beat myself early in the game.”
Toronto got onto the board on Edwin Encarnacion‘s RBI double in the fourth, then cut the gap to two runs in the fifth when Aaron Hill‘s groundout scored Raul Chavez.
Detroit put the game away with three runs off Josh Roenicke in the eighth. With two on and two out, Aubrey Huff had a pinch-hit RBI double and Brandon Inge followed with a two-run single.
Toronto RF Joe Inglett was a late scratch with a ribcage strain. Jose Bautista replaced him in the lineup. … The Tigers have 150 victories since their next-door neighbors, the Lions, last won a game. … Detroit matched their record for home wins at Comerica Park. They are now 46-24 at home, while the pennant-winning 2006 team went 46-35. … Detroit’s Brent Dlugach made his major league debut in the eighth. He pinch-ran for Huff and scored on Inge’s single. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced after the game that Eddie Bonine will replace Armando Galarraga in the rotation, effective Wednesday.