With a chance for home-field advantage in the AL division series, the Tigers look for Porcello to keep rolling as they conclude the regular season against the visiting Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
AL Central champion Detroit (94-67) recorded a ninth consecutive victory over Cleveland on Tuesday, winning 9-6 behind homers from Wilson Betemit(notes), Delmon Young(notes) and Miguel Cabrera(notes).
The Tigers now turn to Porcello in hopes of extending their run in the series, which combined with a Texas loss to Los Angeles, would give manager Jim Leyland’s club home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Detroit is one game behind the Rangers but owns the tiebreaker due to a better head-to-head record.
Porcello (14-9, 4.76 ERA) has endured several ugly slumps this season - including a three-start stretch in August during which he posted an 11.48 ERA. The 22-year-old right-hander has been much better lately, going 3-1 with a 3.35 ERA over his last six starts.
“I think I feel good,” he told the Tigers’ official website. “I’ve got much better life on my fastball. I feel strong, I feel confident. I’m just trying to keep it going.”
Porcello gave up three runs and nine hits in seven innings of Friday’s 4-3, 11-inning victory over Baltimore.
“I was really happy with what I saw out of him,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He threw balls that were really diving. He made some really good pitches. I was really tickled to see that.”
Porcello, who would start a potential Game 4 of the ALDS, is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in four meetings with the Indians (80-81) this season. He did, however, hold them to one run and three hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 10-1 win at Cleveland on Sept. 6 in his most recent meeting.
The Indians counter with rookie Zach McAllister(notes) (0-1, 8.53), who was hit hard in his first two big league starts before showing improvement during a 5-4 loss to Chicago last Tuesday. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings, leaving in line for the win before his bullpen faltered.
“I wanted to prove it to myself and know that I can do it,” McAllister told the Indians’ official website. “I felt like I could do it, and today was definitely nice to go out there and pitch the way that I’m capable of.”
McAllister will have to deal with the red-hot Cabrera, who has gone 16 for 28 (.571) with four homers over an eight-game hitting streak, raising his average to a major league-best .343.
“He’s locked in pretty good, obviously. That’s good news,” Leyland said. “He’s swinging really good. His concentration level is tremendous right now, so hopefully that’ll keep up.”