DENVER (AP) – Jim Leyland’s return to Coors Field was as pleasant as his year as the Colorado Rockies skipper.
In his first game back since managing Colorado in 1999, Leyland watched his starting pitcher get battered for three innings in the Rockies’ 13-6 win Friday night.
“Pretty simple, 13-6,” Porcello said. “That’s about all you need right there. It wasn’t very pretty.”
Leyland saw plenty of games like this in Colorado. He watched his pitchers and opposing pitchers struggle in the park in the pre-humidor era, and he relived it from the visitor’s dugout Friday.
“We talk all the time about pitching aggressive here,” Leyland said. “That’s what you’ve got to do. You can’t pitch on the defensive here, you get beat every time. It’s hard to do sometimes.”
It was hard for Porcello, who came into Friday with a 6-2 record in his last 10 starts before getting hit hard by Colorado. The Rockies opened the three-game interleague series by tagging him for nine runs and eight hits in three innings.
“I wasn’t locating my fastball. Days when I have success I’m locating my sinker well and days I don’t it’s up,” he said. “They were all over it. It all happened so quick. Before I knew it they were up seven, eight runs.”
Most of them came in the second.
Porcello (6-5) cruised through the first inning before the Rockies teed off. Colorado sent 10 batters to the plate in the second and scored six runs on five hits. Five straight batters reached, including a walk to pitcher Jason Hammel that drove in a run to give the Rockies a 2-1.
“He’s a pitcher, for god’s sakes,” Porcello said. “I’m trying to throw the ball right down the middle. That’s the way this night was.”
Porcello gave up a sacrifice fly to Carlos Gonzalez for the second out and nearly escaped down just 3-1. But he elevated a fastball to Chris Nelson, who hit it down the line for a three-run homer, the first of his major league career.
“I didn’t do a good job limiting the damage,” Porcello said. “They had an opportunity to score some runs but I also had an opportunity to put the foot down and stop it at three runs and ended up giving up the big hit. That’s on me.”
Alex Avila, playing his first game at third base, committed an error in the third that led to three unearned runs and a 9-1 Colorado lead.
The Rockies made it 12-1 off reliever Adam Wilk before Jhonny Peralta’s grand slam in the sixth, his first as a Tiger, brought Detroit to within 12-5.
Peralta, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez had two hits each and Miguel Cabrera had three hits for Detroit, which finished with 12 hits.
The Tigers had a chance to take control of the game when they loaded the bases with one out in the first but they came away with just one run.
“The first inning was critical for us,” Leyland said. “We had an opportunity right away to get something on the board and we came away with one. We get one run in this ballpark, that usually spells disaster.”
The loss knocked the Tigers back into a tie for first with Cleveland in the AL Central.
Porcello didn’t blame the mile-high air for his poor outing.
“It wasn’t the ballpark,” he said. “That didn’t have any effect. I’m sure they would have scored nine runs if we were in Comerica. A terrible start.”
NOTES: Tigers 3B Brandon Inge, on the DL since June 2 with of mononucleosis, has joined Triple-A Toledo to begin a rehab assignment. … Peralta’s slam was the third of his career but first as a member of the Tigers. … Colorado had a season-high 15 runs in a May 28 victory over St. Louis.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.