Porcello solid in loss to Cardinals

Porcello solid in loss to Cardinals

Published Jun. 20, 2012 9:31 p.m. ET

DETROIT — The Tigers made mental mistakes, physical
mistakes, struggled offensively, got another player hurt and lost 3-1 to St.
Louis Wednesday night.

In the long run, though, it will quite possibly turn out to have been a good

Jim Leyland has talked all season about the need to get his "Big
Four" starters on a roll at the same time. That hasn't happened, because
of Doug Fister's stints on the disabled list and the inconsistent performances by
Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

In the last four games, though, it seems like things might be about to change.

It started Saturday, when Fister came off the DL to throw six shutout innings
against Colorado.

Scherzer was just as good on Sunday, holding the Rockies scoreless for eight
innings, and Justin Verlander was his usual self on Tuesday, allowing one
earned run in his seven innings.

That left things up to Porcello, and he kept the run going. He couldn't match Cardinals
starter Jake Westbrook, who tossed a complete-game five-hitter, but Porcello only
gave up two earned runs in his seven innings.

With Porcello’s outing, Detroit starters have a combined ERA of 0.96 in the
last four games.

"This is just what the doctor ordered," Leyland said. "Rick is a
sinkerballer, so he's going to give up some hits, but he also got some double
plays when he needed them, and I think, overall, he did very well.

"It's important for us to get that consistency, and hopefully we are
starting to see that."

Porcello also recognized that his performance was important in a broader
context than just Wednesday night.

"We definitely need to be more consistent in the rotation, so it was big
for me to come out there tonight and pitch like I did to follow up Verlander,
Max and Fister," Porcello said. "If we can keep this going, and the
offense scores the runs they are going to score, we'll win some games."

The outing was especially pleasing for Porcello, because he hadn't pitched
seven innings since May 1.

"I think I got out of rhythm in my last few starts, and I got back to what
I need to do tonight," he said. "With this offense, if I can go out
and throw seven innings and give up two runs, we're going to win a lot of

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Porcello's effort wasn't enough. Westbrook was
dominant, pitching against Detroit like he did several times in 2003 and 2004.

"You saw two good sinkerball pitchers tonight, but Jake was just better
than Rick," Leyland said. "Jake Westbrook pitched an outstanding game
today, and you can't blame the hitters. You just have to tip your hat to

Of course, it wouldn't be a Tigers game without another Detroit injury. This
time, it was Gerald Laird pulling up with cramping in his left hamstring. Laird
has been bothered with right hamstring problems for the last few weeks, but
isn't sure how the other one got involved.

"That's why I'm so mad — I'm getting so many hamstring problems," Laird
said. "I popped up from my slide, and it started to cramp up, and it just
got worse and worse and worse.

"Hopefully, it was just a cramp from being dehydrated, but I can still
feel a knot in there. I'm going to drink a lot of fluids and hope that it feels
better in the morning."

Alex Avila will only have about 12 hours to get himself back into playing
shape, because the Tigers can't afford to be short at the catching position.
Avila will start on Thursday after finishing a three-game rehab assignment with
Triple-A Toledo for his own hamstring injury, and rookie Bryan Holaday was
scheduled to return to the Mud Hens in his place.

That move was delayed until Thursday morning, but Leyland said he can't afford
to give Laird any extra time, especially with the Tigers heading to Pittsburgh
this weekend.

"You're not talking about an outfielder or an infielder, where you've got
another outfielder or infielder," Leyland said. "You don't have an
extra backup catcher. It's pretty simple. Either Laird will be OK tomorrow, and
then Holaday goes down, or Laird goes on the disabled list and Holaday stays

"We'll wait until the morning, because we don't want to make any rash
decisions, but I think we'll have an answer by tomorrow."