Tigers' Porcello picks up first win
Santiago supports 20-year-old rookie with five RBIs
SEATTLE -- Rick Porcello was showered in beer Sunday by his Tigers teammates after the right-hander earned his first Major League victory, an 8-2 decision over the Mariners.Yet it speaks to both his age as well as to irony in the fact that he isn't even old enough to drink the stuff they used to drench him. "That's all right; I spit it out," mused Porcello, who is 20 years, three months and 22 days old. Porcello (1-1), making his second big league start, worked seven innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out three and walking none. He allowed a leadoff third-inning home run to Ronny Cedeno before retiring his final 14 batters in a row. Ramon Santiago had a big afternoon with five RBIs. He had a run-scoring single in the second, and then he dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt in the fourth to score Brandon Inge. Santiago also topped off the scoring in the eighth with a bases-loaded three-run double. He had 11 RBIs this week, which is just seven fewer than he had all of last season. "He commanded the strike zone pretty good. He went right after them," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Porcello. "He threw strikes. He challenged them. They hadn't seen him before; that always a big advantage. I thought he pitched very well.'' Porcello, the Tigers' first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, raced through the Minor Leagues -- make that Minor League. He played for just one team last season, Class A Lakeland. He then made the Tigers' roster out of Spring Training. "Coming through the Minor Leagues, not many guys are fortunate to be here at a younger age. It's pretty special for me to be here right now,'' Porcello said. "But once you're here, it doesn't matter ages or anything like that. You have a job to do, and focus on that. You can't get caught up in age." Porcello showed poise beyond his years against a veteran lineup that included Adrian Beltre and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey, who made his Major League debut (April 3, 1989) three months and seven days after Porcello was born (December 27, 1988), never got the ball out of the infield against him. He hit into a double play to shortstop, a groundout to first base and a groundout to short. "I always watched and admired him as a kid," Porcello said of Griffey. "I have a great respect for him. So it's pretty nice." The Tigers broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with three runs. Mariners veteran right-hander Carlos Silva opened the inning by issuing a walk to Miguel Cabrera. Carlos Guillen singled to right field, and Cabrera, on a hit and run, advanced to third. Brandon Inge doubled, scoring Cabrera and sending Guillen to third. Guillen then scored on a Silva wild pitch. Inge later raced home on Santiago's squeeze. Silva grabbed it quickly and shuffled it to catcher Rob Johnson, but Inge's low-and-wide slide avoided the tag. "You won't see that again for another three months,'' said Leyland, who also called for a squeeze on Friday. "Two times in one series for me -- that won't happen very often. I don't like the play, I never have." Santiago, playing more this week because starter Adam Everett has been sick, said getting the squeeze sign "is a challenge because it's an RBI situation. If I get it down, we get a run. I just concentrated and focused and did it." The Tigers did not hit a home run in the series, in which they won two of three games. They showed they could play small ball with a pair of hit and runs on Sunday -- converted by Cabrera and Guillen -- the two squeeze bunts and a handful of stolen bases. "We're a little different club, that's for sure,'' Leyland said. "We're a little more dimensional than what we were." But Leyland isn't against scoring in bunches.
Santiago helped Detroit do just that in the eighth with his bases-clearing double to left-center field. Josh Anderson also had two runs and two hits, including an RBI single in the sixth.Porcello's effort follows Edwin Jackson's 7 2/3 strong innings on Saturday in which he allowed just five hits in a 2-0 victory. "[Porcello's] sinker was moving very good, on the hands of the batter,'' Santiago added. "I think it was a pretty good performance. He's got the stuff of a 25-year-old." The Tigers have an off-day on Monday before starting a three-game series at the Angels.
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.