The Pittsburgh Pirates bounced back from nearly being no-hit on Firday night, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Saturday afternoon. Andrew McCutchen supplied all the Pirates offense, his 2 home runs and 4 RBI single-handedly beat the Tigers.
Drew Smyly took his first loss of the season, only lasting 4 1/3 innings as his record dropped to 1-1. With the win, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett evened his record at 2-2. Joel Hanrahan received credit for his 9th save. Prince Fielder hit his 7th home run of the season for the Tigers, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera each had 2 hits.
The Tigers got off on the wrong foot from the get go. Budding Tiger Killer Josh Harrison broke up his 2nd no-hitter in 2 days (even if Smyly was only 1 batter in) by bunting for a single. Then the one player on the Pirates you do not want to beat you, did. McCutchen took Smyly out of the park to deep left, his 6th home run of the season giving the Pirates a quick strike 2-0 lead.
In the 2nd inning, the Tigers had Burnett on the ropes, the bottom of the lineup loading the bases. But Don Kelly fouled out to 3rd to end the threat. Kelly has his uses as a player. One of those is not batting at the top of the order.
The Tigers did counter in the 3rd on Andy Dirks' double and a Prince Fielder big fly to right. Fielder's home run tied the game at 2 all.
In the 4th, Kelly tried to make amends, nearly manufacturing a run. With 2 outs, Kelly worked a walk, stole 2nd, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, only to be stranded as Dirks flew out to left. Frustrating was the word of the day for Tigers fans.
In the 5th, Smyly made his 2nd mistake of the game...again to the one player you don't want to mess with on the Pirates, McCutchen. The uber-pesky Harrison was hit by a pitch, then trotted home on McCutchen's opposite field home run to right.
With the Pirates up 4-2, after allowing a single to Kelly's bro-in-law Neil Walker, Jim Leyland had seen enough, and ended Smyly's day at 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 6 K and 92 pitches.Smyly wasn't extremely sharp, but it only took 2 pitches to McCutchen ruin his afternoon. The long ball is becoming Smyly's Achilles heel.
Brayan Villarreal came on in long relief, and was the best he's ever been as a Tiger. Villarreal tossed 2 1/3 hitlless innings, thanks to a nasty high 90's fastball. The time spent in Toledo seems to have done Villerreal wonders.
The Tigers closed to within 1 run in the 7th. Cabrera and Fielder singled, Delmon Young, who has been stinging the ball in the series, hit a deep sac fly to center, sending a tagging Cabera to 3rd. The Pirates then gave the Tigers a gift run, catcher Rod Barajas' passed ball allowing Cabrera to score.
The Tigers flashed solid defense in the 8th to bail out Phil Coke. With runners on the corners, Jhonny Peralta charged and barehanded Nate McLouth's 2 out roller, Fielder finishing off a very nice play by coming up with the short hop. It kept the Pirates off the board, but the Tigers still needed runs for it to make a difference.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates got lucky. With Boesch on 1st and 1 out, Ramon Santiago hit a line shot...right at 1st baseman Casey McGehee. McGehee was only in position to make the play because he was next to the bag, holding Boesch close. On a ball with extra bases written all over it, all McGehee had to do to erase those words was to step on the bag for the inning ending double play. FSD's Rod Allen could only say, "It's better to be lucky than good:"
In the 9th, Cabrera worked a 2 out walk off of Hanrahan. But Fielder struck out swinging to end another frustrating loss.
The game was full of missed chances for the Tigers, which has been one of the ongoing themes of the season. Burnett had a base runner with 2 outs every inning, but did not allow any of them to score.
So much for Justin Verlander's electric performance inspiring the Tigers to end their month plus long streak of not winning consecutive games.
Instead of moving forward, the Tigers are stuck running in place....going nowhere.