In his 164th career Major League start on Thursday, Rick Porcello picked up his first career shutout with a dazzling effort against the Rangers in Arlington. The 25-year-old right-hander surrendered just three hits and three walks while punching out six, needing only 115 pitches to complete the gem and lead the Tigers to their seventh consecutive win.
Porcello has long been touted by sabermetricians as a pitcher poised for a breakout, as his peripheral numbers have always outperformed his ERA and other standard metrics. He’s certainly living up to his hype this season, posting a 10-4 record, 3.41 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 62/24 K/BB ratio over 97 2/3 innings.
Still just 25-years-old, Porcello has put himself in very impressive company in his early career. He has already notched 10 or more victories in each of his first six seasons in the big leagues, and among active hurlers, only Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and C.C. Sabathia have netted more wins before their 26th birthday.
His emergence as a top-of-the-rotation starter, combined with the talents of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, are the biggest reason why the Tigers remain the favorites to secure a fourth consecutive American League Central Division crown.
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Hanley Able to Shoulder the Load
The Dodgers were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Thursday as the MRI results on the aching shoulder of All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez revealed no structural damage.
He has been sidelined since Monday due to irritation in the A/C joint in his right shoulder, but it appears that he’ll be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list. Look for Ramirez to rejoin the Dodgers lineup at some point over the weekend.
Before hitting the shelf, the 30-year-old had been surging at the plate, slashing .329/.419/.544 with four homers, 21 RBI and seven stolen bases over his last 23 games. With his potent stick absent from the lineup, the Dodgers offense mustered a mere eight runs in the three contests that he’s missed.
Utley Blasts Walk-Off Winner in 14th
Chase Utley brought an end to a marathon game against the Marlins on Thursday, blasting a walk-off two-run homer off of Chris Hatcher to deliver the Phillies a 5-3 win.
The 35-year-old second baseman finished the monster day 3-for-7 with a pair of runs scored and three RBI. Though he has slumped as of late, Utley still sports a terrific .296/.356/.459 slash line on the season to go along with six homers and 37 RBI. He remains one of the top offensive performers in the middle infield.
National League Quick Hits: Adam Wainwright was denied his 11th win, allowing just one run in a complete game loss against the Dodgers.. Francisco Liriano (oblique) threw a successful bullpen session and is on track to return to the Pirates rotation in early July… Nolan Arenado (finger) will begin taking batting practice on Friday… Bryce Harper (thumb) is expected to return from the disabled list on Monday… Gavin Floyd underwent season-ending surgery on Thursday to repair a fractured elbow… Chad Billingsley underwent season-ending elbow surgery… Junior Lake was forced to leave after colliding with the outfield wall, but is expected to return to the lineup Friday… Gregory Polanco blasted a three-run homer in a victory over the Mets… Wilson Ramos went 2-for-3 plus a walk in his return to the Nationals lineup… Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth inning against the Nationals to earn his ninth save of the season… Juan Uribe returned from the disabled list and scored the lone run in a 1-0 win over the Cardinals… Josh Beckett ran his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 14, but had to settle for a no-decision… Francisco Rodriguez picked up his league-leading 26th save with a perfect ninth inning against the Rockies… Mike Leake racked up 12 strikeouts while allowing just one run over eight innings in a win over the Giants.
American League Quick Hits: Jose Bautista missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained hamstring, but remains optimistic that he’ll avoid the DL… Kyle Farnsworth elected free agency after being outrighted by the Astros and will attempt to latch on elsewhere on a minor league deal… Indians prospect Francisco Lindor will miss 7-10 days with a non-displaced nasal fracture… George Springer blasted his 15th home run of the season, though he’s hitting just .215 in June with 32 strikeouts in 76 at-bats (42.1%)… Derek Holland (knee) will throw a simulated game on Sunday and could soon begin a minor league rehab assignment… Adam Eaton was forced to leave Thursday’s game due to cramping in his left leg… J.A. Happ twirled 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox to earn his seventh win of the year…