(Sports Network) - Back-to-back 14-run games has helped the Red Sox charge into a first-place tie in the American League East, but if anybody can get under the skin of Boston's surging offense, it could be Detroit Tigers' starter Rick Porcello.
Porcello gets a long-awaited rematch with the Red Sox this evening as Boston goes for a sixth straight victory over Detroit in the second of four straight games between the clubs at Comerica Park.
Though Porcello is red-hot, he'll try to keep a cool head on the mound tonight when he faces Boston for the first time since starting a benches-clearing incident back on Aug. 11, 2009.
Making his second career start versus the Red Sox, Porcello fueled a heated series by hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch in the second inning. Youkilis charged the mound, throwing his helmet at Porcello in the process, and both players were ejected.
The 22-year-old, who is 0-1 with a 6.75 earned run average versus Boston, hasn't faced the club since and the Red Sox might not be anticipating this reunion. Since allowing five runs over five innings in his first two starts, both losses, Porcello is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in six outings.
Pitching on 11 days' rest due to a rainout, Porcello won his third straight start on Sunday in Pittsburgh and held the Pirates to just one hit and two walks over eight shutout innings. The righty is now 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA in eight starts overall this season.
The 2007 first-round pick will be charged the task of slowing down a Red Sox offense that has plated 28 runs over its last two games. Boston broke out with a 14-2 pounding of Cleveland on Thursday, then rolled to an easy but rain- soaked 14-1 triumph in yesterday's opener. Thankfully for the Tigers, the game was called after 7 1/2 innings following a 55-minute rain delay.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer and Carl Crawford posted his second straight four-hit game. Crawford notched a pair of triples and drove in three runs as Boston plated 14 runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 2-3, 1998.
"It feels real good just to be able to hit the ball," said Crawford, who is hitting .333 in May after batting just .155 in April. "I haven't felt that way in a long time, so to have that feeling back for a few days felt great."
The Red Sox have won three straight and 11 of their last 13 games to move into a virtual tie with the Yankees atop the division. They have also won five straight and 16 of their last 21 versus the Tigers.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will get another chance to inch closer to 200 career victories when he makes his fourth start of the season this evening for Boston.
Wakefield drew the start on Sunday versus the Cubs with John Lackey out with a strained right elbow and gave up just a run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings without a walk. The victory improved the 44-year-old to 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 games this year and was the 194th win of his career. Having posted 180 of those victories with Boston, Wakefield is now 12 shy of the club's all-time record shared by both Cy Young and Roger Clemens.
"On a personal side, every win is precious, but as long as the team wins," Wakefield said. "Even though I didn't get that [3-2 win on May 1] against Seattle, we came back and won the game, which is the most important thing."
The right-hander is 16-10 with a 4.25 ERA in his career versus the Tigers, who had a three-game winning streak halted with Thursday's loss as Alex Avila drove in their only run.
Max Scherzer (6-2) lasted only two-plus innings in the start after getting drilled for seven runs.
"It just wasn't Max's day," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "When he threw it good they hit it bad but got good results, and when he threw it bad they hit it good and got really good results."
Detroit, which had its finale with the Rays on Wednesday rained out, is 2-1 on what is now a nine-game homestand.