CHICAGO -- The Tigers and White Sox, along with the umpiring crew, all wore an American flag patch on the side of their hats in recognition of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 events, as did every Major League team on Tuesday.
For Rick Porcello and his family, it brought back a slew of memories. He thankfully didn't lose any family or friends in the tragedy, but growing up just outside of the New York City in New Jersey, he had classmates who did.
"It's a pretty somber day for us, as it should be for all Americans," Porcello said.
Porcello was a 12-year-old in middle school, making him part of the generation that had to grow up near New York under the new reality of a constant terrorist threat. Every time his father went into the city for work, he said, he worried about him coming home that day.
"I just remember for a while, just kind of going to school and kind of having a real somber feeling, not just in school but everywhere," Porcello said. "Being such a young age, I was so scared that something like that was going to happen again and that [dad] was going to be in the city at the wrong time. I think it just made everyone around there real nervous."
Leyland says Garcia's 'got all the tools'
CHICAGO -- Every once in a while, Avisail Garcia gets the right situation to show off his potential as a player. Monday was one of those times, even though it came with Garcia in the field instead of at the plate.
Garcia couldn't stop Alex Rios from tagging up from second base and going to third on A.J. Pierzynski's liner to right, but he came awfully close. His throw hit third baseman Miguel Cabrera on one hop, right in the spot where Cabrera had a chance to tag Rios. He couldn't get it there in time, but he wasn't far off.
It was reminiscent of a Spring Training play in which Garcia threw out a runner at third base with a line-drive throw on the fly from foul territory in right field. It was an example of why the Tigers aren't completely ruling him out from spending next season in Detroit, despite less than half a season in Double-A ball and no time in Triple-A.
"I think he's got a chance to be an outstanding Major League player at some point," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Could I say today that he would be ready for next year [in the big leagues], slam dunk? I couldn't say that."
Leyland couldn't answer what the best path would be for Garcia, whether he'd be better off getting some finishing work at Toledo or learning on the job in Detroit in a part-time role.
"But I really like what I see," Leyland said. "He's a tools guy, a terrific tools guy. He's pretty much got them all. I think the power will come. Game power, that's usually the last thing to come for kids. But he's got all the tools."
Boesch likely to start against Floyd
CHICAGO -- The Tigers had been planning at some point for a matchup with White Sox left-hander Francisco Liriano for Wednesday night. They're now planning to see Gavin Floyd, 7-2 lifetime against the Tigers. In manager Jim Leyland's case, he's pondering his options.
Ryan Raburn has more hits off Floyd than anybody Leyland's got in reserve, but Raburn has looked miserable at the plate since his September return. Brennan Boesch has had no luck against Floyd, going 0-for-17 against him with six strikeouts, but he has left-handed power, which has killed Floyd this year with a .314 average and 14 home runs in 271 at-bats.
Then he has Avisail Garcia and Quintin Berry, two players who have never faced Floyd.
This is one case where Leyland won't be going with the numbers, at least not the batter-versus-pitcher numbers.
"I'm not going to play Raburn, even though he's hit Floyd in the past, because I just think he's sluggish," Leyland said. "I'm not going to play him. I think his leg's still sore. I noticed when he went to third [on Miguel Cabrera's hit Monday night] he was struggling with it. It looked like he was struggling moving a little bit in the outfield, to be honest with you."
The most likely scenario is that Boesch will start against Floyd. Leyland said Boesch will definitely start Thursday night against left-hander Chris Sale, which was another matchup he was juggling in his head. Boesch has been feast-or-famine off Sale this year, 2-for-8 with two home runs and five strikeouts.
Porcello's trouble coming after 75 pitches
CHICAGO -- The Tigers have scored exactly one run of support in Rick Porcello's last five starts. Porcello, meanwhile, has given up all of his runs in the fifth inning or later in four of his last five starts.
That confluence of stats led to the question whether young pitchers, given an extended stretch of low run support, might be apt to pitch in fear of making a mistake? In Porcello's case, at least, manager Jim Leyland is skeptical about a correlation.
"That's a great question. I've really, really believed much in that theory myself," Leyland said, "because the pitcher's job is to face the White Sox hitters and try to shut them down. And he has no control over whether we score runs or not. So I think it could be frustrating. We can talk about it, because it's realistic because we haven't scored runs. We haven't really scored any for Ricky.
"There's been a little bit of a pattern there, I'm not denying that. But at the same time, any pitcher's job is to concentrate solely on shutting the other team down. Now, would it be nice to get some runs on the board and get out there and be able to relax a little bit? Absolutely. But it shouldn't be a foremost thought."
For what it's worth, mid- to late-inning trouble has been a longer general trend for Porcello.
Monday marked Porcello's first multi-homer game since April 26; he had given up just eight home runs over his 22 starts in between. Yet of the 14 home runs he has allowed this season, five of them have come after he has hit the 75-pitch mark, including both on Monday. He's allowing a .359 average from pitches 76-100, according to baseball-reference.com, compared to .278 average in his first 25 and .283 in his next 25.
Verlander touts Cabrera's MVP case
CHICAGO -- On the same week that Mike Trout's candidacy for American League Most Valuable Player got another boost when he crossed the 10.0 mark in Wins Above Replacement, Justin Verlander did his part to draw attention to Miguel Cabrera's case.
Verlander showed up in the visiting clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field wearing a T-shirt touting Cabrera's cause. He then had a photo taken of the shirt and posted it on his Twitter account.
"Keep the MVP in the D," the T-shirt read, noting Miguel Cabrera's name and number 24 under the Old English D.
Verlander said he could get them for the whole team.
Unlike All-Star balloting, MVP voting is not something a get-out-the-vote drive by players is likely to influence. Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- two representatives in each AL city, in this case -- vote on the honor. Verlander joked that as a reigning MVP, he has some pull.
Cabrera entered Tuesday night trailing Trout by two points in the race for the AL batting title, trailing Josh Hamilton by three in the RBI battle, and trailing Hamilton by five home runs for the AL lead. He leads the AL with a .978 OPS, 15 points higher than Trout.
When asked about Quintin Berry's role, manager Jim Leyland said, "I consider Berry an extra player right now. And a good one. He brings us some speed, a little different dimension for us." Jhonny Peralta indicated he thought Paul Konerko's single ahead of Alex Rios' three-run homer on Monday would've been a routine grounder for him if he hadn't been playing for the double play, which he had to after an Omar Infante error had put Dewayne Wise on first base. "I know he pulls everything," Peralta said, "but no matter what, I don't want to be too far from the base."