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Porcello's fielding miscues mar otherwise decent start

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello did a lot of things well in his three innings of work on Tuesday against the Pirates. His sinker was moving, his curveball landing for strikes and so on. He induced five groundball outs and only gave up two hard-hit balls, both of them doubles.

However, a couple of defensive miscues around the mound left his line looking a little worse than he felt in a 5-2 loss at Joker Marchant Stadium. After cruising through the first and second innings, Porcello wound up allowing three runs in the third.

Josh Harrison doubled to left to lead off the inning. With Harrison at third after a groundout, Jaff Decker dropped a squeeze bunt that brought home Harrison, and Porcello's throw to first found Miguel Cabrera well off the bag. Jose Tabata singled on a short chopper that Porcello couldn't quite handle, Decker scored on Gregory Polanco's line-drive double to right and Tabata came home on a groundout by Pedro Alvarez.

"I could've fielded my position a little bit better," Porcello said. "That one bunt that I hesitated on and even the one down the third-base line, I had a legitimate shot of getting him at first and kind of bobbled the ball."

Porcello said both doubles were off changeups, as that pitch wasn't dropping Tuesday like it normally does. The right-hander said he'd like to focus on his changeup and throwing first-pitch strikes when he makes his third Grapefruit League start.

"Definitely I need to be throwing more first-pitch strikes and continue to get my changeup down where it needs to be. It's a little up in the zone right now," Porcello said. "I need to work down in the zone with it and just finish it -- just releasing it a hair too early, which is causing it to be flat."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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