LAKELAND, Fla. -- The sight of the ball slipping out of Rick Porcello's hand in mid-delivery was a shocker for most of the crowd at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday. It was not a surprise for Porcello. The way his outing went, it figures Tuesday was the day.
"That was supposed to be the fastball, believe it or not," he said. "I actually do that about once a day playing catch. The ball just comes out of my hand, and I'd never done it on the mound before, but I was always wondering [when]. Today was the day it finally happened in a game."
Porcello was able to laugh about the pitch. The numbers were similarly ugly, with six runs on 10 hits over six innings, but he was able to get past those as well.
Porcello's two sixth-inning home runs -- the first to ex-teammate Gerald Laird, the second a monster shot from Jason Heyward -- came on pitches he left up as he stretched his pitch count toward regular-season mode. His three first-inning runs came on well-placed hits. In between, he seemingly got on a roll.
"I definitely want to get my pitch count up, and I was able to do that today," he said. "But the latter part of the game, I have to work harder to keep the ball down. It's important."
Pitch-wise, Porcello feels fine, especially with a curveball he has tried to refine. The numbers this spring weren't so good, with 16 earned runs on 27 hits over 18 1/3 innings, including four home runs.
"I really feel good," he said. "Obviously, the results haven't been there this spring, but I don't look into it any more than how I feel and how I'm executing pitches. I feel good, and the ability to execute pitches is there. I just need to bear down a little bit more.
"But really, everything's been working. There hasn't been one major pitch that I've felt like I had to dedicate a lot of time to."