DETROIT -- The blossom of the Tigers' pitching in May led to a pair of league honors in the opening days of June. While Justin Verlander earned American League Pitcher of the Month honors for May, fellow Detroit starter Rick Porcello was named the AL's Rookie of the Month.
Both of them went 5-0 in May, the first time two Tigers pitchers did so in the same month since Brian Moehler and Steve Sparks in August 2000. In Verlander's case, the record was only the start of the dominance.
While Verlander's wins punctuated his comeback from a 2008 season in which he led the AL in losses, the 26-year-old right-hander allowed a mere 1.52 ERA while racking up 56 strikeouts over 41 1/3 innings. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no Major League pitcher had struck out that many batters during a 5-0 month since then-Red Sox race Pedro Martinez in July 2002. No Tiger had done it since Jack Morris.
The bulk of Verlander's strikeout total came from three consecutive starts with double digits in K's, something no Tiger had done since Mickey Lolich in 1971. The string started when Verlander fanned 11 Cleveland Indians May 3 at Comerica Park and then did it again in a complete-game, one-hit shutout of the Tribe five days later at Progressive Field.
While Verlander set the tone for a Tigers pitching staff that led the AL in ERA at the end of May, nobody could have expected as much from Porcello, the 20-year-old phenom who made the jump from Class A to Detroit's rotation at the end of Spring Training. After going 1-3 in April, the right-hander caught the momentum and rattled off five consecutive victories, starting with seven scoreless innings in a shutout of the Twins on May 5 in Detroit.
Not only did Porcello win all five of his May starts, he allowed one run or less in four of them before giving up two runs on four hits in six innings May 27 at Kansas City. His winning streak was the longest by a pitcher age 20 or younger since Dwight Gooden in 1985. Gooden is also the only pitcher in Major league history younger than Porcello to win five straight starts with a 1.50 ERA or lower in any stretch of a season, having done it in 1984.
Porcello also earned some AL Pitcher of the Month votes, but Verlander beat him out along with Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke. Verlander will receive a specially designed trophy and a Sharp Aquos television for the honor.
Porcello earned the rookie nod over Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, Angels hurler Matt Palmer and Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.