Dominating pitching continues to be the story for the Detroit Tigers as they aim for a three-game sweep against the Boston Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park.
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Winners of five in a row and six of the last seven, the Tigers have surrendered a total of just eight runs during the current win streak, thanks in part to a commanding 6-1 victory on Saturday. While he may not get as much press as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello continued his strong start by picking up his seventh win in eight decisions.
Porcello gave up just a single run on six hits and a walk, striking our four over the course of eight innings as he lowered his ERA to 2.91. Thanks to the positive effort, Detroit continues to sport the best winning percentage (.684) in the majors and is 6 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota for first place in the American League Central.
"It's May," Porcello said after his performance. "I've said before, this is a marathon, it's not a sprint. ... The most important thing to me right now is that we're in first place and we're playing good ball. That's huge. We want to keep that going."
From an offensive standpoint, the Tigers picked up support from Miguel Cabrera who finished with three hits and two RBI, while Victor Martinez added a pair of hits and scored once.
Over on the other side, Mike Napoli tallied three singles in four trips to the plate for a Boston squad which is fourth in the AL East, 2 1/2 games off the pace set by Baltimore and New York. Xander Bogaerts pitched in with another two hits at the bottom of the order. His solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning accounted for the lone run of the contest for the Sox.
John Lackey suffered his third loss of the season after giving up five earned runs on nine hits and a couple of walks over 5 1/3 innings.
"They're deep all the way through the lineup," Lackey said of the visitors. "They're pretty good."
Detroit hitters are currently first in the AL in batting at .275, coming in second in slugging (.421), which combines well with the fact that the pitching staff is second in the league with a combined 3.19 ERA.
Sunday's slate of games culminates with Anibal Sanchez taking the hill for the Tigers and Jake Peavy facing off against the Detroit lineup.
Peavy, a right-hander from Alabama, has appeared in eight games in 2014 but has just a 1-1 mark to show for his efforts. Earlier this week the hurler lasted just 4 1/3 innings against Minnesota on the road, giving up six runs on nine hits and a pair of walks as the Sox suffered an 8-6 setback.
Sporting a career mark of 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 all-time appearances against Detroit, Peavy lasted only three innings in his most recent matchup versus the Tigers, allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks.
Over on the other side, Sanchez is still searching for his first win of the campaign. The right-hander has been on the shelf for several weeks, last pitching against Minnesota on April 26 when he lasted a mere 2 2/3 innings in what turned into a 5-3 setback on the road.
A member of the Miami staff for the bulk of his career, Sanchez has yet to register a decision versus Boston.
Detroit, which edged the Red Sox in the season series last year by a 4-3 count, is now ahead this time around at 2-0. Overall, the Tigers are off to their best start since 1984, thanks in part to a 10-game road win streak which is their longest in three decades.