Porcello goes for Tigers in rubber match against Twins

Rick Porcello was mentioned in nearly every trade rumor involving the Detroit Tigers this winter. However, a strong spring may have changed a few minds in the Tigers' front office.

Porcello hopes to carry that solid Grapefruit League showing into the regular season on Thursday when he takes the hill against the Minnesota Twins in the rubber match of a three-game set at Target Field.

The 24-year-old Porcello impressed as a rookie back in 2009, but has been inconsistent since, culminating with an awful season a year ago that saw him go 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA.

Porcello also had one of the poorest quality-starts percentages in the AL and his .310 batting-average-against was the highest of any AL starter.

However, Porcello impressed this spring, going 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts.

Minnesota, meanwhile, will turn to one of its reclamation projects in righty Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, once considered among the top prospects for the New York Mets, had his season cut short last year by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He made just three starts last season for the Mets and posted a 2.29 earned run average with no record in 19 2/3 innings.

The 29-year-old hurler, who lost his only other start to the Tigers, was a 15- game winner for the Mets back in 2010.

Minnesota evened this series in thrilling fashion on Wednesday, as Eduardo Escobar doubled home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Twins to a 3-2 victory.

The Twins fought back from a 2-0 deficit after six innings to rebound from Monday's 4-2 setback to the defending American League champion Tigers, with Wilkin Ramirez contributing a pinch-hit, RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.

Escobar's double off Phil Coke (0-1) made a winner out of Glen Perkins (1-0) after the Minnesota closer tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth. Starter Kevin Correia aided the cause by firing seven solid innings in which the offseason acquisition yielded just two runs while scattering seven hits.

The Tigers won the season series with the Twins last year, 10-8.