Porcello, Tigers shut out Twins 4-0

Joe Oberle, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- What started as an old-fashioned pitchers' duel Friday at Target Field ended up being a one-sided win for the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit's Rick Porcello and Minnesota's Scott Diamond took shutouts into the sixth inning, but the Tigers' powerful lineup finally got to Diamond en route to a 4-0 Tigers victory.
"Our strong suit is hitting it into the gap and hitting it over the fence and that's what we do," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's what type of team we have. We're a team that slugs it pretty good, and when we slug it pretty good, we look pretty good."
Porcello was brilliant, allowing three hits across seven strong innings of shutout ball. He threw 94 pitches with no walks and five strikeouts, keeping the Twins hitters off balance all game.
"[Porcello] was tremendous," Leyland said. "Good sinker, but the stuff that's really set his sinker up lately is his secondary stuff. Because they're not just sitting on a fastball anymore. That's been a huge, huge difference for him, in my opinion. He was terrific tonight."
Diamond's decent performance was marred in the sixth when he gave up a leadoff walk to Austin Jackson, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Diamond then had to pick his poison. He intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera to pitch to Prince Fielder, who hit a two-run double off the wall for his second two-bagger of the game. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta each followed with a double and increased the Tigers' lead to 4-0.
"I walked Austin Jackson on a pitch that kind of slipped away from me," Diamond said. "Intentionally walking Cabrera to get to Fielder, historically, I have been pretty successful against Fielder. I thought it was a good pitch, but I think earlier in the game I had a chance to buzz him or get him off the plate, but I didn't take advantage of it, I think it kind of cost me on that at bat-it kind of let the flood gates open in the sixth."
Diamond left the game after 98 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits, two walks and one strikeout.
"I thought he threw it good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I thought the ball was coming out of his hand nicely, his breaking ball was sharp. You could see those guys he was pounding them inside, they were pulling a lot of balls foul. And the set up his change up on the outer half of the plate. He did a really nice job."
The Tigers, who came into the game with their bullpen posting a record of 4-12, had a little trouble getting to the finish line.
Drew Smyly started the eighth inning, retired one batter and walked the next one. Then Brian Dozier reached on catcher's interference. But Joaquin Benoit came in and finished off the eighth.
Closer Jose Valverde entered in the ninth and walked leadoff hitter Joe Mauer. But Brian Doumit cleared the bases by hitting into a double play. Valverde then hit Josh Willingham with a pitch, but struck out Justin Morneau to end the game.
Porcello and Diamond took command of the game early, as both were throwing one-hitters through three innings and shutout ball through five.
Porcello struck out four of the first five batters he faced, while Diamond induced seven ground-ball outs in the first three innings.
"Working ahead," Gardenhire said about what made Porcello effective. "You saw his pitch count. It wasn't very much, as he went along. But his ball was moving all over the place. He was putting it in and out and he that nice little breaking ball that kept us off balance. He pitched hard in, especially to our righties. He made some of our lefties move their feet too."
The Twins defense helped Diamond, making several nice plays on hard-hit balls to short and third.
The Twins' first hit came on a third-inning single past second baseman Omar Infante by former Tiger Clete Thomas. But Thomas was thrown out trying to steal second.
Diamond, meanwhile, gave up two two-out doubles (one to Peralta and the other to Fielder), but both runners were stranded.
NOTES: The Tigers have won 17 of the club's last 23 games at Target Field, dating back to Sept. 2, 2010. ... Cabrera came into the game leading the major leagues with 91 hits, which is the most by a Tigers player through 64 games since Al Kaline had 95 hits in the first 64 games in 1955. Cabrera went 0-for-3 on Friday... Before Friday's action, Twins outfielders had recorded 21 outfield assists this season, which is the most in baseball. ... Josh Willingham has four home runs and seven RBIs against the Tigers, which are both the most of any major leaguer this season against Detroit.

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