UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
MLB

Rick Porcello's unique shutout keeps Tigers rolling in AL Central

Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello has been on a tear recently, upping his shutout streak to 25-plus innings. Photo:

Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello has been on a tear recently, upping his shutout streak to 25-plus innings.

Five days after throwing his first career shutout, Rick Porcello added a second, blanking the A's on four hits in Detroit's 3-0 win on Tuesday night. In doing so, he became the first pitcher in nearly 25 years to throw a complete-game shutout without walking or striking out a single hitter.

A night after Rajai Davis hit a walkoff grand slam off A's closer Sean Doolittle, Porcello needed just 95 pitches to subdue the team with the majors' best record, which is to say that he authored a Maddux. Porcello threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of 31 hitters and went to a three-ball count just twice — to Josh Donaldson in the first inning and Coco Crisp in the third. While he got only two swings-and-misses all night from his 95 pitches, he never threw more than 15 pitches in an inning and needed fewer than 10 in four of his innings, including three of the final four frames. Seventeen of his outs came via groundballs, tying a career high. The A's never had two men on base, and only had one reach scoring position — Jed Lowrie, whose second-inning double marked Oakland’s only extra-base hit on the night. Lowrie was also the only A’s player to collect multiple hits.

Porcello owed the lion’s share of his run support to J.D. Martinez, who had two extra-base hits off Oakland starter Brad Mills. Martinez doubled in the fourth to send Miguel Cabrera to third, who then came home on a Torii Hunter groundout. Martinez then added a two-run homer in the sixth, his 10th of the year.

Porcello's no-walk, no-strikeout shutout was so unique that just seven other pitchers have completed the feat during the post-1960 expansion era, the most recent of them coming in 1989:

Player

Date

Team

Opp

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Al Fitzmorris

6/4/74

Royals

Orioles

9

3

0

0

0

0

Jim Barr

7/23/76

Giants

Astros

9

4

0

0

0

0

Dave Roberts

5/26/78

Cubs

Cardinals

9

7

0

0

0

0

Mike Caldwell

6/4/79

Brewers

White Sox

9

8

0

0

0

0

Neil Allen

7/20/86

White Sox

Yankees

9

2

0

0

0

0

Roger Clemens

7/21/87

Red Sox

Angels

9

5

0

0

0

0

Jeff Ballard

8/21/89

Orioles

Brewers

9

7

0

0

0

0

Rick Porcello

7/1/14

Tigers

A's

9

4

0

0

0

0

Ballard's gem is the only other one besides Porcello's for which we have a recorded pitch count; he needed 112, because not only did he give up seven hits, he also plunked two batters. Disregarding the zero walks, only a half-dozen pitchers have thrown complete-game shutouts since Ballard's without striking out a batter, including just two in this millennium: Scott Erickson for the Orioles against the Royals on April 28, 2002, and Derek Lowe for the Indians against the Twins on May 15, 2012.

As for the “Maddux” — a complete game using less than 100 pitches, named in honor of soon-to-be-inducted Hall of Famer Greg Maddux — Porcello’s efficiency is a unique achievement in this day and age. Porcello's is the sixth of this season:

Player

Date

Tm

Opp

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Pit

Henderson Alvarez

4/19/14

Marlins

Mariners

9

2

0

0

0

4

90

Jered Weaver

5/21/14

Angels

Astros

9

2

1

1

1

5

94

Josh Collmenter

5/29/14

D'backs

Reds

9

3

0

0

0

5

94

Kyle Lohse

6/1/14

Brewers

Cubs

9

3

0

0

0

6

93

Henderson Alvarez

6/3/14

Marlins

Rays

9

8

0

0

0

5

88

What shouldn't be lost in this history is that Porcello is in the midst of the best stretch of his career. Not only has he put up zeroes in consecutive starts for the first time in his six-year career, he hasn't allowed a run in his last 25 1/3 innings: his final 1 1/3 against the Twins on June 15, his six frames against the Indians on June 20, his shutout against the Rangers on June 26 and the shutout Tuesday night. He's allowed just 13 hits and four walks while striking out nine during that span. The streak is the longest for a Tigers pitcher since Jack Morris ran off a 31-inning scoreless stretch in July 1986.

Porcello's shutout streak has lowered his ERA to 3.12, more than a full run below any mark he has put up since 2009, his only year below 4.00. None of his per-nine peripherals (0.8 homers, 2.0 walks, 5.2 strikeouts) is far off his career marks, but his .266 batting average on balls-in-play is 45 points below his norm. He hasn't been below .300 since 2009. All of which is to say that it may still be premature to conclude that he's turned a corner, because that BABIP is just begging for regression on a team that came into the night with the league’s third-lowest defensive efficiency (.673).

In any case, the Tigers (46-34) will take it. Tuesday's win marked their 10th in their past 12 games, a run that began during the team's brief hiatus from first place in the AL Central. After looking up at the Royals for three days, they once again have built a four-game cushion in the division.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More MLB

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.