The Detroit Tigers showed the kind of mettle that make them the reigning three-time AL Central champions to open this crucial seven-game road trip.
They're counting on Rick Porcello to display some of his own Wednesday night as their series continues versus the Rays at Tampa Bay.Locked in a battle for the second wild-card spot -- the Tigers (67-56) are one percentage point ahead of Seattle -- and chasing Kansas City in the division, Detroit overcame an early 4-0 deficit to defeat the Rays 8-6 in 11 innings Tuesday. Victor Martinez drove home a tiebreaking run with a bases-loaded walk and Joe Nathan converted his 26th save despite allowing a run in his inning of work for the second straight appearance."We did what we had to do," said outfielder Torii Hunter, who also scored in the three-run 11th. "Had good at-bats and we came through with some runs."Porcello (13-8, 3.28) looks to avoid a fourth consecutive loss and help the Tigers win consecutive road games for the first time since July 23-24. After taking the loss pitching the final two innings in Detroit's 6-5, 19-inning defeat to Toronto on Aug. 10, the right-hander pitched on normal rest and was tagged for six runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 7-2 defeat to Seattle on Friday."The game in Toronto had nothing to do with what happened tonight," Porcello said. "I had plenty of time to get ready for this start, and I prepared just like I always do. I just didn't pitch well."Porcello also didn't pitch well in his only start this season against the Rays, who battered him for seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 7-3 victory on July 6. He is 2/3 with a 3.96 ERA lifetime against Tampa Bay.Following their charge to reach .500 by winning 32 of 47, the Rays (61-64) have dropped three in a row to fall seven games back of the Tigers and severely damage their already slim chances of claiming the second wild-card spot. James Loney went 3 for 4 with a three-run homer and is 10 for 25 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last six games.Rays infielder Ben Zobrist, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI, is 10 for 18 in his last four games against Detroit. He's 3 for 11 lifetime against Porcello and batting .440 during a three-game hitting streak at home.Jake Odorizzi (9-9, 3.82) has been Tampa Bay's hottest starter and is looking to improve to 6-1 in his last seven starts. He made only one mistake in seven innings Thursday at Texas -- a two-run homer by Geovany Soto -- in a 6-3 victory, and the right-hander has struck out 37 over 35 1/3 innings in his last six outings."The guy's confident," manager Joe Maddon said of his 24-year-old pitcher, who has never faced the Tigers. "He's swaggering out to the mound, and swaggering back in."Odorizzi is 4-5 in 13 home starts despite a 3.10 ERA and has struck out 82 in 72 2/3 innings there.He'll try to continue the swagger of a starting rotation that has compiled a 2.31 ERA since the All-Star break as the Rays have gone 17-11 to claw back to the fringes of the AL wild-card chase. Tuesday's loss snapped a club-record 13-game streak in which Tampa Bay starters allowed three or fewer runs.