CHICAGO -- The Tigers have scored exactly one run of support in Rick Porcello's last five starts. Porcello, meanwhile, has given up all of his runs in the fifth inning or later in four of his last five starts.
That confluence of stats led to the question whether young pitchers, given an extended stretch of low run support, might be apt to pitch in fear of making a mistake? In Porcello's case, at least, manager Jim Leyland is skeptical about a correlation.
"That's a great question. I've really, really believed much in that theory myself," Leyland said, "because the pitcher's job is to face the White Sox hitters and try to shut them down. And he has no control over whether we score runs or not. So I think it could be frustrating. We can talk about it, because it's realistic because we haven't scored runs. We haven't really scored any for Ricky.
"There's been a little bit of a pattern there, I'm not denying that. But at the same time, any pitcher's job is to concentrate solely on shutting the other team down. Now, would it be nice to get some runs on the board and get out there and be able to relax a little bit? Absolutely. But it shouldn't be a foremost thought."
For what it's worth, mid- to late-inning trouble has been a longer general trend for Porcello.
Monday marked Porcello's first multi-homer game since April 26; he had given up just eight home runs over his 22 starts in between. Yet of the 14 home runs he has allowed this season, five of them have come after he has hit the 75-pitch mark, including both on Monday. He's allowing a .359 average from pitches 76-100, according to baseball-reference.com, compared to .278 average in his first 25 and .283 in his next 25.