Major League Baseball
Tigers rookie pitcher shines in win over M's
Major League Baseball

Tigers rookie pitcher shines in win over M's

Published Apr. 20, 2009 2:46 a.m. ET

The churping cell phone ring coming from Rick Porcello's locker barely took a break.

Understandable really. Despite the quiet demeanor about his first major league win, Detroit's 20-year-old pitching prospect deserved all the congratulations for this effort.

"I'm pretty happy," Porcello said. "I'm very enthusiastic and very happy about it, but from the team's perspective, it's one game."

Looking more like a veteran than someone barely 20, Porcello shut down Seattle for seven innings in his second major league start, retiring the final 14 batters he faced in the Tigers' 8-2 win over the Mariners on Sunday.

Along with Porcello's impressive effort, Detroit got an unexpected offensive jolt from Ramon Santiago to take two of three from Seattle. Santiago came through with some small ball - a run-scoring squeeze bunt in the fourth - then added a double in the eighth.

Leading 5-1, Santiago drove a bases-loaded double just past the glove of Endy Chavez in left-center, scoring all three runs. He finished with a career-high five RBIs.

Porcello's first big league victory was greeted with the typical staples: shaving cream pie to the face; beverage shower in the locker room; and of course, the game ball.

A year ago, Porcello was pitching in the Florida State League for Class A Lakeland.

On Sunday, he struck out Chavez twice, got Ken Griffey Jr. to ground into a double play and looked like he belonged on the Tigers' roster.

Porcello experienced some rookie bumps in his first start on April 9 against Toronto, lasting five innings and giving up nine hits. He learned from that initial experience, mixing his pitches to keep Seattle hitters off balance. Only once, in the second inning, did Porcello have two base runners on, but quickly erased that scoring chance with an inning-ending double play.

"He looked like he belonged there. He still looks a little green at times but you expect that," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said. "This is a project. Obviously the stuff is there, so we'll take it from there and see what happens."

Porcello allowed five hits in seven innings, struck out three and walked none. He retired his final 14 batters following Ichiro Suzuki's infield single with one out in the third. His only mistake was a hanging curveball that Ronny Cedeno sent into the Tigers' bullpen for a solo homer in the third.

When he started to tire in the seventh he got help from Brandon Inge with a brilliant diving stab of an Adrian Beltre line drive, and two batters later, added a leaping grab off Yuniesky Betancourt's bat. Leyland wanted to keep Porcello under 100 pitches; he needed only 86 in his seven innings.

"It's pretty special for me to be here right now," said Porcello, Detroit's first-round draft pick in 2007. "You're here, but it doesn't matter your age. You've got a job to do."

While Porcello was sterling, Seattle's Carlos Silva was inconsistent again. After throwing seven solid innings in Seattle's home opener last Tuesday, Silva (0-2) barely made it through five innings against the Tigers, a team he struggled against last season. In three starts last year against Detroit, Silva allowed 19 earned runs in 9 2-3 innings and had an 17.69 ERA.

Silva gave up four runs and six hits, but needed 94 pitches to finish five innings, and the damage could have been worse if not for a few diving and spinning defensive gems by Beltre at third base.

"I think I only had one bad inning, but at this level one bad inning will cost you the game," Silva said.

Silva unraveled in the top of the fourth in a 1-all game. Miguel Cabrera walked on a 3-2 pitch after a long at-bat, then quickly found his way to third on a hit-and-run single by Carlos Guillen on the first pitch.

Inge didn't wait either, doubling past a diving Beltre on Silva's first offering to score Cabrera. Guillen came home moments later when Silva threw wildly in the dirt and behind left-handed batter Josh Anderson to the backstop.

Detroit added one more when Inge made a sprawling slide around catcher Jamie Burke's tag to score on Santiago's squeeze bunt.

"I was trying to pitch my game but that inning a lot of stuff was going on, everything was working out for them," Silva said. "Pretty much in that inning the game went away."


Seattle 1B Russell Branyan got the day off with a sore back he suffered after a hard slide into home plate in Friday night's victory. Manager Don Wakamatsu expects Branyan will be available Tuesday against Tampa Bay. ... Detroit had 12 hits Sunday and has at least eight hits in all 12 games this season. ... SS Betancourt committed consecutive errors in the eighth, his first two errors of the season. He had 21 last year.


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