Porcello, Red Sox focused on improving vs. Tigers

DETROIT -- Rick Porcello doesn't get sentimental pitching against his former team. He's more concerned with making his second start of the season better than the first.

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner tossed 6 1/3 innings in the Boston Red Sox's opener against Pittsburgh on Monday. He gave up three runs on six hits and collected the win as the Red Sox held on for a 5-3 victory.

He'll face the Detroit Tigers (3-1) on Sunday at Comerica Park.

"First and foremost, I'm happy we won the game and I was able to pitch into the seventh," Porcello said on Saturday. "I felt really good throwing the ball pretty much the whole game up until the seventh inning. I lost my tempo a little bit but I feel good with what I did there and want to keep building off that and carry it into this start."

Porcello, who pitched for the Tigers from 2009-14, is coming off a career year in which he posted a 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA.

"I'm not thinking too much about what happened last year," said Porcello, who needs two strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career. "It's in the past now and we ended up falling short as a team of our goals. That was really the focus this offseason and coming into this season, what we've got to do to get back to the postseason and advance to the World Series."

He's pitched very well in two starts against the Tigers, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He struck out 14 batters in 14 innings during those outings. But he doesn't profess any special feelings about facing some of his former teammates.

"Tomorrow's another game, just like the other 161 we're going to play," he said. "Get my game plan going and go out there and try to execute."

The Red Sox (2-2), who lost the first two contests of the four-game series, will still be missing designated hitter Hanley Ramirez and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Ramirez remained in Boston on Saturday after being diagnosed with the flu. Bogaerts was placed on the bereavement list on Friday and is not eligible to return until Monday.

Porcello will be opposed by left-hander Daniel Norris, who will be making his season debut. Norris pitched well in seven spring training games except for one outing. He allowed nine runs on 13 hits in three innings against Atlanta on March 27 while experiencing a dead arm. He bounced back with a 2 2/3 innings stint against Miami in which he allowed one run.

"I just needed to get back out there and feel the life back in my arm," Norris said. "I was kind of waiting for it (the dead arm) because I get it every year. So I was glad to get it out of the way and start to feel the life and velocity back on the ball. When you have a dead arm, you really can't feel anything. Your arm just feels waterlogged -- that's the best way to describe it."

Boston has handed Norris two of his four career losses. He's 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA against the Red Sox in three appearances, including two starts.

He's eager to get another shot at them.

"It's exciting. That's the way I want it," he said. "I want to face the best. First start of the year, so you try to get out there and have fun with it."

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