Last year, Tigers right hander Rick Porcello had trouble pitching deep into games. He typically breezed along for for four or five innings and then he would lose it. Going off of memory for the moment, his fastball velocity would often be under 90 MPHafter 50 pitches or so and then he'd get hit hard. The chart below taken from Brooks Baseball shows that, in today's game, he was still firing his fastball at about 92 MPH at about the eighty-pitch mark. That's a good sign. The key will be whether he can continue to do that as the season goes along and the innings pile up.
Figure 1: Rick Porcello's Pitch Speed by Pitch Number, 04/15/2012
Porcello's results were encouraging again today. He allowed just one run on five hits, including a home run by Dayan Viciedo, in 7 2/3 innings. He got most of his outs on 11 ground balls plus four strikeouts. His control was superb as he walked nobody and has issued just one base on balls in his first two starts.
Offensive support came from the unlikeliest of sources today. Gerald Laird, who has caught both of Porcello's starts this year, blasted a homer, a double and a single as the Tigers topped the White Sox 5-2. Delmon Young also had two hits today rising his on-base percentage to a robust .382. That's higher than Miguel Cabrera at .350. Yes, the early season numbers can be weird sometimes.
On the negative side, the Tigers bullpen continued to struggle, specifically closer Jose Valverde. Papa Grande came into the game with a 5-1 lead in the ninth and proceeded to allow three hits and a run. He managed to hang on and preserve a win (it was not a save situation), but he has not been impressive in the early going.
The win prevented a sweep at the hands of the White Sox and propelled the Tigers back into first place. Next up is a three-game series versus the Royals in Kansas City.