By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus does not believe Tuesday’s complete-game shutout by Rick Porcello should be the start of a conversation about whether Porcello belongs in the All-Star Game.
The discussion, Ausmus said, should have started with Porcello’s other complete-game shutout – the one he threw just five days earlier.
With Tuesday’s gem against Oakland, the team with the best record in baseball, Porcello became the first Tigers pitcher to throw consecutive complete-game shutouts since the legendary Jack Morris threw three straight in 1986 – before Porcello was born.
“That’s definitely one of the more impressive complete-game shutouts that I’ve seen, just the fact that he was pounding the strike zone and making them swing the bat and forcing them to swing the bat, and they’ve got a great lineup,” catcher Bryan Holaday said. “He did a great job of going right at them and forcing contact. That’s how he finished the game in under 100 pitches.”
Porcello pitched the entire game without recording a single strikeout. He would have liked to get at least one, but recently he has not been needing them.
“This is the best little run that I’ve had in my career, and the weird thing is I’m not striking out as many guys as I was last year,” Porcello said. “These past three games I’ve been getting a lot more ground balls and using my fastball more, actually, than I was early on in the season and having that confidence.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he added. “Tonight was a blast.”
Porcello got 17 outs on ground balls Tuesday night, a number Ausmus said indicated the effectiveness of Porcello’s sinker.
“His sinker was excellent tonight,” Ausmus said. “He kept it down in the zone almost every single time he threw it. Curveball was good today, but I thought his change-up was exceptional. Got a lot of pop-ups on his change-up, got guys out in front on a couple rollovers. When you see that many balls on the ground, you know Rick’s keeping his sinker down, and the off-speed pitches were very complementary today. That’s why he was so effective.”
At 25 years old, Porcello has already started 165 games in the major leagues, and he has won at least 10 games in each of his six seasons. Now, however, it seems he has truly hit his stride.
“I feel more comfortable,” Porcello said. “I feel more comfortable in making pitch-by-pitch adjustments. I feel a lot more comfortable in my pitch sequences and understanding how I’m going to get certain guys out. I think that’s the biggest thing.
“I would have liked to have recorded one strikeout,” Porcello added later, “but I’ll take the game that I had tonight over anything.”