Rick Porcello's brief stint on the mound against the Los Angeles Angels consisted of three infield hits, some well-placed grounders through the infield - and one towering grand slam by Mike Trout.
By the time he returned to the clubhouse after 47 pitches, the Detroit Tigers' beleaguered right-hander still couldn't figure out what had happened. The Angels got nine runs in the first inning against him, and didn't score again until Peter Bourjos' sacrifice fly in the eighth wrapped up an easy 10-0 victory for Garrett Richards on Saturday.
"I struggled a little bit with my command, but it wasn't all that bad," said Porcello, whose two-inning relief stint last Sunday was his only appearance since his previous start on April 10. "I was keeping the ball down in the zone and throwing good sinkers. If I'm going to be inducing contact, that's my goal."
Porcello (0-2) faced 11 batters and got only two outs - on a double-play grounder by Chris Iannetta. The four-year veteran, who gave up an AL-worst 226 hits last season en route to a 10-12 record, has allowed 16 earned runs in 11 innings over his first three starts for a 13.09 ERA.
"We were getting the ground balls, the broken bats, the little squibbers off the end of the bat, but they were just like in the perfect spots - either just out of our reach or just slow enough for the guy to beat it out," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "I'm sure he's really frustrated today. I think anybody would be. In this game you have to be talented - but lucky at the same time. And today, Ricky was a little unlucky. Besides the ball that Trout hit, he could have very easily gone 1-2-3 in that inning."
Albert Pujols singled with two men on to drive in the Angels' first run of the game and Josh Hamilton walked to load the bases before Mark Trumbo singled in the second run and Howie Kendrick added two more with another single.
Brendan Harris delivered the fifth run with a two-out single, and the Angels loaded the bases again with infield hits by Luis Jimenez and Bourjos.
Trout then drove a 1-2 curveball into the trees beyond the center field fence. Detroit manager Jim Leyland finally replaced the shell-shocked Porcello with Drew Smyly, who gave up a double to Pujols before retiring Hamilton on a flyball.
"He was obviously a little rusty, a little wild, a little unlucky, and that pretty much sums it up," Leyland said. "We just got ambushed. The grand slam was the killer. I mean, if he comes out of it with five, you let him pitch a few innings and hope you score two or three and get back in it. I'm sure he wasn't a happy camper, and I don't blame him."
The 10 first-inning hits set an Angels franchise record. It was their highest scoring inning since a nine-run sixth at Texas on July 30, 2012, and their most productive first inning since an 11-run string on June 29, 1995, also at Texas.
The defending AL champion Tigers had outscored their opponents 11-0 in the first inning prior to Saturday, and their starting pitchers had a 1.78 ERA over the previous eight games.
Richards (1-0) struck out eight and walked none. Prince Fielder's leadoff single in the second and Miguel Cabrera's leadoff double in the seventh were the only hits off the right-hander in his second start for the injured Jered Weaver, who is sidelined with a broken bone in his non-pitching arm.
"His ball was cutting like crazy, and we couldn't get good wood on it," Torii Hunter said after going hitless in three at-bats against his former teammate. "He pitched pretty well. With a 9-0 lead, some guys just kind of give in or they're done by the fifth inning. But he wanted to go the distance, and you could tell he had that focused today. When he's on like that, it's going to be tough."
The Tigers, who lost Friday night's series opener 8-1, were shut out for the third time this season and have produced only three runs in their last 42 innings - two of which came on groundouts.