Though his record may not be the best indication, Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello has pitched well over the last month-and-a-half. He has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his last eight starts.
On Friday, he'll have the opportunity to avenge that one poor outing.
Porcello will take the mound at Target Field as the American League Central-leading Tigers open a three-game set against the Twins. Minnesota tagged Porcello for five runs on a season-high 10 hits over just five innings on May 23 -- though the Tigers won that contest, 7-6.
The righty has been much better in his three starts since, allowing just four combined earned runs over 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA. However, he's notched just one win during that span due to his ongoing lack of run support. Detroit finally broke through in his last outing on Saturday for six early runs, as Porcello cruised to his third win of the season.
"I think having some run support, there's definitely some comfort to it," Porcello said after limiting the Indians to two runs (one earned) on three hits over six innings on Saturday. "But at the same time, you're going out there trying to put up zeros on the board regardless."
The Twins will counter with left-hander Scott Diamond, who received zero run support his last time out -- though it mattered little as he struggled once again. Diamond allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and a pair of walks while lasting just 4 2/3 innings on Sunday against the Nationals.
Minnesota's most consistent pitcher in 2012, Diamond has struggled this season to a 4-5 record and 5.19 ERA through 11 starts. The 26-year-old was hoping he had turned a corner in the outing prior to Sunday, when he hurled six shutout innings against the Mariners on June 2. Though he felt he had similar stuff on Sunday, the results were once again very different.
"It was definitely a frustrating way to have the game turn out," Diamond said. "I thought I was executing pretty well. I thought the curveball was better than it's been. I was able to throw some pretty good changeups. So that outcome stinks. I'm pretty frustrated with the way it went."
Tigers: Avila not expected to start
Catcher Alex Avila is expected to get another day of rest in Friday's series opener after sitting out Wednesday's series finale against the Royals.
Mired in an 0-for-13 skid, Avila will give way to backup Brayan Pena against Diamond. Avila went through a similar stretch last month, going hitless in 17 straight at-bats prompting manager Jim Leyland to alternate Avila and Pena behind the plate in an attempt to snap Avila out of his skid.
It seemed to work temporarily with Avila going 6-for-24 with one double, one home run, two RBIs and five walks over an eight-game stretch. However, he went hitless over four straight starts prior to sitting out Wednesday's contest.
Pena went 2-for-3 with an RBI double on Wednesday and is hitting .302 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 23 games.
Twins: Pressly ready to return
After leaving the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Nationals with what he thought was a biceps injury, only to find out Monday it was actually soreness in the back of his shoulder, reliever Ryan Pressly thought his bad week was over.
He then threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and thought he'd be good to go on Wednesday, but ended up getting sent home with strep throat. Pressly was ready to pitch on Thursday but wasn't needed in the game.
"It was weird, I'd start sweating and then I'd start feeling really cold," Pressly said. "It was like, 'I don't like this.' But I feel fine. I'm good to go."
• Twins outfielder Josh Willingham is 7-for-13 [.538] with two homers and seven RBIs in his career against Porcello. Willingham has also drawn four walks and has been hit by a pitch against Porcello, giving him a .667 on-base percentage, the highest for any player against Porcello.
• Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has fared nearly just as well against Diamond, tallying a .526 (10-for-19) lifetime average with one long ball and six RBIs against the lefty.