Porcello's historic run continues

Porcello's historic run continues with win

KANSAS CITY -- Rick Porcello wasn't born yet when Dwight Gooden dominated as a teenager. For history's sake, that's good; if he was around then, he'd be too old to set the kind of standards he's reaching right now.

Gooden was so young when he broke into the big leagues that he won seven straight starts twice -- both in 1984 and '85 -- before he turned 21. Not once since then had anyone that age won more than four straight starts. Porcello's six solid innings in Wednesday's 8-3 Tigers win over the Royals got him to five after he lost three of his first four decisions to start the season.

The way Porcello's going, he could threaten Gooden's standard, though his next scheduled start comes next Tuesday against the Red Sox. Fernando Valenzuela's eight-game streak in 1981 isn't far off from there.

"I don't know about comparing him to anybody," shortstop Adam Everett said. "The biggest thing is whenever a guy comes out at second base, like Billy Butler, and says, 'Man, we really have to make this guy [pitch] up. He's nasty.' When you hear that, when you hear other guys say that, you know he's got something special. What I see, the way he makes guys miss, you know he can be something special if he stays healthy."

When the Royals hit Porcello, it was generally on the ground, allowing the defense behind him to make plays. When Jose Guillen swung and missed at a sinker with a runner on second and one out in the opening inning, everybody had to take a split-second and marvel.

"That was nasty," Everett said.

Butler's line-drive single to left off a Porcello sinker a hitter earlier put the Royals ahead early. Mark Teahen's fourth-inning homer off the left-field foul pole was the only other run off of him, and it came on a tough sinker that was heading off the outside corner.

It was the only hit Porcello allowed out of his final 11 batters. Eight of those other 10 grounded out.

"He's got that dominating, sinking fastball," Royals bench coach John Gibbons said, "and sometimes it's hard to do anything with that."

Porcello said the main adjustment he made after his first-inning jam was to get ahead in the count more. He didn't have as much success in doing that as in previous starts -- he threw first-pitch strikes to half of the 22 batters he faced, and Teahen's homer came on a 3-0 pitch -- but Porcello succeeded in getting quick outs.

Porcello (6-3) worked quickly and efficiently, and he got the ground balls that kept his infield involved. The Detroit infield, in turn, made the plays behind Porcello that kept him rolling, from Everett's diving stop up the middle to start a double play to end the third inning to Polanco's barehanded grab and throw to retire David DeJesus to lead off the sixth.

"You stay on your toes," Polanco said. "You're ready on every pitch. It really helps when you come out to hit. You're in the game. You never turn it off. Same with [Justin] Verlander. When he's in the zone, he just works fast and gets you in the game."

Said Porcello: "It's huge, especially for me, being a ground-ball type of guy. They've been great all year, making diving plays and turning double plays. As a pitcher, it makes it easy for you go up there and get a ground ball. They're going to hit it and somebody's going to get it. It puts you at ease a little bit on the mound, knowing that they're going to make plays behind you."

Teahen's home run was the first off Porcello since April 27 against the Yankees, which was also Porcello's last loss. That homer also kept Porcello from becoming only the second pitcher age 20 or younger since 1954 to win at least five straight starts while allowing one run or none in each, joining Valenzuela's company.

These last five starts haven't been a sudden emergence, Porcello said, but an adjustment.

"I think I'm doing a better job of getting my breaking ball over for strikes and giving hitters a different look that way, keeping them off my fastball a little bit," Porcello said. "I think that's the biggest thing so far. I'm just going to try to keep working on it."

Of more immediate concern to the Tigers was the fact that Teahen's homer tied the game. Back-to-back three-run Tiger rallies in the next two innings took care of that. Josh Anderson put Detroit back in front with an RBI single in the fifth, one of four Anderson hits on the day from the leadoff spot, before Placido Polanco lofted a drive into the left-field bullpen for his first home run of the year, a two-run shot.

RBI singles from Polanco and Everett plus Gerald Laird's run-scoring ground ball through Teahen's legs at third put the Tigers in command in the sixth.

All eight runs, five of them earned, came off Royals starter Kyle Davies (2-4), who yielded 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. b

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.