Rick Porcello

Friday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Justin Verlander

July 24, 2015 - 4:56 am

The Red Sox return home Friday still searching for their first win of the second half. Having been swept by the Angels and the Astros on their seven-game road trip, the Sox host the Tigers this weekend for a three-game set. To start things off, Rick Porcello will get the start against Justin Verlander. Porcello, who will make his first career start against his former team, has had his fair share of trouble on the mound this season but has shown some improvement as of late. In his last two starts, totaling 11 innings of work, the righty has allowed five runs overall, four of which were earned. Since his disastrous two-inning, seven-run outing against the Blue Jays on July 1, Porcello has lowered his season ERA from 6.08 to 5.79. It's still seventh worst among pitchers with at least 10 starts this season and he has a 5-10 record, but his 3.27 ERA in those last two contests is a step in the right direction. His WHIP hasn't improved much in that time, however, increasing to 1.41 and plateauing there. Though he got the loss in Saturday's game vs. the Angels, Porcello didn't get a lot of help from his offense as the Sox were shut out. Over five innings, the 26-year-old was able to hold the Halos to three runs -- two earned -- on four hits, three walks and five strikeouts. However, two of those hits exited the ballpark, and both were off the bat of right fielder Kole Calhoun. "I was just falling behind in the count. Obviously with the guys behind him [Mike Trout and Albert Pujols], I don't want to walk him," Porcello said. "I was hoping to execute some sinkers down and away and get him to roll over into the shift. He just put a good swing on both pitches. "We were in some tough spots [Saturday] and able to limit the damage. It kept us in the game. That is the biggest thing moving forward. We did that [Saturday]," he added. "I'm just making better pitches and not getting beat on offspeed stuff up in the zone." Verlander has also been in a bit of a rut this season. Six starts in, the right-hander has yet to grab a win, posting an 0-3 record with a 6.62 ERA thus far. He last took the hill Sunday against the Orioles, hurling 3 2/3 innings and allowing seven earned runs on eight hits with a walk and four K's. Like Porcello, Verlander also conceded a pair of home runs in his last outing. "I need to do a better job," he said . "A lot of guys need to do a better job at being consistent. It really starts with looking in the mirror at myself. I need to be more consistent." On the year, Verlander has three starts with at least six earned runs and three with two or fewer. So far, every other start for him has been trouble. If the pattern continues, he's due for a better outing than the one he had last time out. In 11 starts and 74 1/3 innings against Boston, Verlander has a 3.63 ERA and a 3-4 record, though he hasn't faced the Sox since 2013 and hasn't gotten a win against them since 2011, despite seeing them four times in that span. The Red Sox slash .237/.300/.330 when Verlander gets the ball and have collected 66 total hits against the Tigers pitcher. They've also struck out 66 times vs. him, though, giving Verlander an average of eight strikeouts per nine innings. That goes up to 8.9 SO/9 when he pitches at Fenway Park, but so do his ERA (3.97), WHIP (from 1.197 to 1.259) and opponent slash line (.244/.310/.356). Tigers vs. Porcello (RHP) Ian Kinsler (11 plate appearances): .600 AVG/.545 OBP/.900 SLG, 1 double, 1 triple, 4 RBIs, 1 strikeout Rajai Davis (7): .429/.429/.714, 1 triple, 1 RBI Marc Krauss (7): .333/.429/.667, 2 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Anthony Gose (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Victor Martinez (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Yoenis Cespedes (3): .000/.000/.000 Red Sox vs. Verlander (RHP) Alejandro De Aza (34 plate appearances): .226 AVG/.294 OBP/.516 SLG, 2 double, 1 triple, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts David Ortiz (30): .370/.433/.741, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts Mike Napoli (22): .222/.364/.389, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (19): .056/.105/.056, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Shane Victorino (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts Daniel Nava (4): .333/.500/.667, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Hanley Ramirez (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk Ryan Hanigan has two strikeouts in three plate appearances vs. Verlander.