Porcello focused on business in Detroit reunion

Road-weary Red Sox forced to make do with schedule

Porcello focused on business in Detroit reunion

DETROIT -- Rick Porcello is enjoying the best season of his eight-year Major League career, and he's looking forward to enjoying a trip back to where his career started. Well, not until after he takes care of business Friday in his first start at Comerica Park not in a Tigers uniform.

"I'm kind of trying to block it out. After Friday, I'll go over and say hi to those guys, but I'm not talking to them before Friday," Porcello said Thursday.

Porcello, who has won eight of his last nine starts, said he is focused on helping the Red Sox stay on the right path in a tight playoff race. This will not be Porcello's first start against the Tigers -- nor his first trip to Detroit with Boston -- but it is his first start at Comerica.

"I think seeing them in Boston earlier this year helped, and obviously pitching against them in Boston and then coming here kind of took care of, I guess, feelings or whatever you want to call it," Porcello said. "With the race that we're in, I'm really trying my hardest not to let any of that creep into my head. I want to maintain the focus that I've had in my last three or four starts and not let anything alter that."

Porcello broke into the Majors with the Tigers in 2009, two years after they drafted him. He went 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA as a rookie and posted a 4.30 ERA in his six years with the Tigers. He has seen a pretty big change from his first year in Boston, when he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. He attributes part of that success to a more reliable curveball this season.

"I don't know if [the curveball] has been sharper or breaking or anything like that," Porcello said. "I just think my usage of it, especially in the second half, the usage has been a lot more, especially early in counts trying to get ahead of hitters."

Porcello is 12-0 at home this season and 19-8 all time at Fenway Park. He went 36-29 at Comerica Park during his time in Detroit. Porcello said his favorite Comerica Park memory came during the 2012 postseason, the Tigers' last appearance in the World Series.

"I think there's a lot of games that we came back and won, and those are great memories," Porcello said, "but I think my favorite memory probably was in 2012 when we swept the Yankees and we were going to the World Series. I mean, I don't think you can beat that one."

Weather, schedule do Sox no favors

Following Wednesday's rain-shortened win in Baltimore, the Red Sox had a late arrival Thursday in Detroit for the third leg of their four-city, 11-game road trip. The team had a nearly two-hour delay in its flight out of Baltimore, and players did not get into bed at the hotel in Detroit until around 4 a.m. ET.

The Red Sox lobbied for a later start time, but first pitch remained at 1:10 p.m. The Orioles were also asked to move Wednesday night's game to an earlier start, but they also declined to do so. It's worth noting the Lions had a preseason NFL game next door at Ford Field Thursday night.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Detroit's former general manager, said the Lions game was not a factor because the Lions' schedule had not been announced when they initially asked the Tigers to alter the schedule late last season.

"They traditionally play Thursday afternoon games, and that's their right to do that," Dombrowski said. "That's what they wanted to do. I know that they've played Thursday afternoons for years."

While the visitor's clubhouse at Comerica Park was a bit of a groggy place Thursday, manager John Farrell said it was no excuse for the Red Sox.

"In some ways, it's almost a motivator and a rallying point, honestly," Farrell said. "We knew coming into Cleveland that this was going to be somewhat of a tour for these 11 days and four places and different start times. But still, we're all in and embracing the challenge that's here."

Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.