MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Detroit Tigers are on, and their starting pitching has been the catalyst.
Rick Porcello wouldn’t let an hourlong rain delay get in the way of the groove.
Victor Martinez had three hits and four RBIs to push the Tigers past Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins in a 10-2 victory on Tuesday, the seventh in eight games for Detroit.
“I’m not one to get that excited about stuff like this,” manager Jim Leyland said, “but we’re playing better. I think we’re showing signs that we’re a good team, and we’ll see.”
With Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander leading the charge, Tigers starters are tied with the defending American League champion Texas Rangers for the most wins this season from the rotation with 16. They have 25 quality starts of six innings or more and three runs or less in 37 games.
“I want to follow suit with that. I want to do my job,” Porcello said. “Just watching them attack guys and get guys out I think kind of rubs off on everybody.”
Jhonny Peralta’s two-run homer in the second inning ended Liriano’s bid for back-to-back no-hitters, and the left-hander’s outing was over after three innings due to a lingering illness. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Liriano, who was bothered by flulike symptoms last week, had trouble catching his breath.
Brennan Boesch drove in two runs for the Tigers, who have won four straight. Porcello (3-2) pitched five crisp innings, allowing one run and three hits. He kept throwing in the batting cage during the delay to stay loose.
“I’d throw some pitches probably every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure that I wasn’t going to tighten up and that I could go back out there,” he said.
Rene Tosoni hit his first career homer, but the stumbling Twins managed only five hits and dropped their majors-worst record to 12-22. The Johnny Vander Meer jokes and references stopped soon after Liriano (2-5) took the mound on this muggy, 87-degree night.
Brian Duensing, whose last start was limited to two innings by a rain delay, came out of the bullpen for the fourth, and the weather became dangerous in the bottom of the frame.
With the darkened sky drenching downtown Minneapolis, hail as big as golf balls began to drop. Some of the more daring fans stayed in the seats to capture the storm on camera and playfully toss ice chunks at each other to pass the time. Some Twins players, standing in the dugout, tried to catch the hail in their mouths.
As the grounds crew used a riding blower and rakes to clear the ice off the grass, Verlander — apparently relaxed by his no-hitter over the weekend — picked up a bat and took a few swings while teammate Phil Coke tossed him some hail balls.
The delay lasted 64 minutes.
“It makes perfect sense. Why not?” Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel said.
Martinez has made an immediate impact in his first season with the Tigers, the first of a four-year, $50 million contract. He has a hit in 10 straight games, with a homer, 11 RBIs and a .472 batting average during the streak.
Porcello, facing a team that’s last in the majors in scoring and last in the league by more than 20 runs, was strong enough before the delay that he came back for two more innings after the tarp came off. His sinker has been sharp, one of the biggest reasons for this run.
“The pitchers feed off one another,” third baseman Brandon Inge said. “Someone throws a great game and the next one doesn’t want to be the one to ruin the momentum.”
Tosoni’s towering home run to right was the only blemish on an 83-pitch performance that included two walks. Porcello won his third straight decision, with just seven runs allowed in 31 2-3 innings over his last five starts.
The Tigers (19-18) moved above the .500 mark for the first time since April 26. They’ve had a winning record for all of five days this season, but the Twins haven’t even reached par in the standings.
Notes: The Tigers arrived in town well past midnight and will leave less than 40 hours later after this two-game series, but Leyland isn’t about to complain about the schedule. “We get tired like everybody else. So what? So do the other teams. So do the guys getting up at 5:30 every morning to go to work,” he said. … Tosoni, a native of Canada, was called up two weeks ago. … Vander Meer is still the only major leaguer ever to throw a no-hitter in consecutive starts, accomplishing the feat with the Cincinnati Reds in 1938.
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