The Detroit Tigers held on for a pivotal 6-2 win against Tampa Bay on Saturday to take game three of the series, as starter Rick Porcello turned in quite possibly his strongest outing of the season.
The 23-year-old Porcello was ultra-efficient through his seven-inning performance, needing just 87 pitches to limit Rays hitters to four hits overall with four strikeouts. Although he was locating his pitches brilliantly and still appeared to have enough left in the tank to pull off a complete game shutout, the Tigers made an interesting decision to go with the bullpen over the final two frames.
Offensively for Detroit, third baseman Miguel Cabrera finished 3-for-3 from the plate with a pair of walks to move his season average to .315. The All-Star lock is now 7-for-11 against Tampa Bay pitching in the series, and Saturday's big performance from the dish represented his fifth three-plus hit game in the month of June alone. In addition to Cabrera's big night, outfielder Austin Jackson provided the evening's biggest hit with a three-run homer in the eighth inning to break the game open, his eighth of the year.
Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson, making his first start after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, was forced out of the game in the third inning after a scary Prince Fielder line drive nailed him in the right leg. X-rays on the 25-year-old right-hander were negative, but after allowing a Jackson run on the same play where he was injured, Hellickson did end up taking the loss to fall to 4-4.
Sunday's finale will pit Detroit lefty Drew Smyly against Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb, a talented, but inconsistent right-hander who was shelled for eight runs on 13 hits in his previous outing.