The Tigers opened up their inter-league schedule with a 4-3 victory over the Rockies tonight. It was their seventh win in a row on a home stand which has propelled them into first place 3 1/2 games ahead of second place Kansas City. This is their longest winning streak since they won seven in a row between June 17-24, 2007. They won eight in a row between April 29 - May 28 the same year.
Rick Porcello was solid again tonight allowing one run on six hits and two walks in six innings of work. As usual, the Tigers limited his pitch count as he was removed after throwing 86 pitches. He continued to show improved command of his curveball tonight. After posting a 6.23 ERA in four April games, he has a 1.12 ERA in his four May starts. One of the keys has been his ability to keep the ball in the park this month. He has yet to surrender a gopher ball in May after six last month. His 53.6% ground ball percentage is fourth best in the league but that is something he did in April as well.
Fernando Rodney was not available to pitch tonight after pitching in five consecutive games so Joel Zumaya had to close with a 4-1 lead in the ninth. He struck out the side but did not make it easy in between. He walked his first batter of the season - Brad Hawpe - to open up the inning. He then allowed a one out two run homer to Seth Smith making it 4-3. He allowed two more runners to reach before striking out Dexter Fowler to end the game. Ryan Perry had set him up with two scoreless innings allowing just a walk.
The Tigers once again displayed some stellar defense. Brandon Inge made two more excellent plays bare handing a grounder and also running pretty deep into left field to catch a pop fly. Josh Anderson helped Porcello get out of a third inning jam with a perfect throw to the plate nailing Todd Helton. Miguel Cabrera then started a nice double play helping Porcello get out of another mess in the sixth.
As has happened many times this year, much of the offense was provided by the bottom part of the order. Sixth batter Brandon Inge blasted his team leading 12th homer in the fourth. Gerald Laird and Roman Santiago added two hits apiece from the eighth and ninth spots. Placido Polanco also added two hits.
The Tigers are now a remarkable 43-12 versus National League teams since 2006.