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Pirates 4, Tigers 3: Drew Smyly allows 2 home runs to Andrew McCutchen, and...ballgame

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May 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) pitches during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
May 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) pitches during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE


Final - 5.19.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 4 9 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 10 0
WP: A.J. Burnett (2 - 2)
SV: Joel Hanrahan (9)
LP: Drew Smyly (1 - 1)

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The Detroit Tigers had opportunities all day long against Pittsburgh Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, but couldn't knock him out of the box in a frustrating, aggravating, and possibly panic inducing 4-3 loss.

Jim Leyland said as much in the post game.

"We had Burnett on the ropes. We let him off the ropes the one inning (2nd) when we loaded the bases. A big hit there could be a killer, but we didn’t get it. And that’s happened to us too many times this year."

I really don't need to add more. Leyland said it all about this team that can't swing straight.

I will add this. When the opposition has one big gun who can do you damage, and the lineup around him is little more than tomato cans carrying wiffle ball bats, don't throw the big gun fat meatballs over the middle of the plate. Coming into today, Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen was hitting .341/.403 /.523. Surrounding him were a bunch of stiffs, 4 of whom were hitting under .200, and 2 others under .235. Hell, I bet you Sparky Anderson would have walked McCutchen every at bat. He would have forced the Pirates to try and beat the Tigers with 8 cream puffs, because he would have taken the bat out of their star's hands.

So what happens? McCutchen hits 2 home runs, accounting for all the Pirates' scoring. The one player you can't allow to beat you, beat you. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

I hope it was a lesson learned for Drew Smyly. Though I suspect Leyland is long past his lesson learning days.

For the nuts and bolts recap:

Pirates 4, Tigers 3 Snap Reaction: It only takes one man to beat the Tigers - Andrew McCutchen

The Tigers are on the verge of falling into 3rd place in the Central, as the White Sox are up 4-0 on the Cubs. The Cleveland Indians won as well, leaving the Tigers 4 games back of 1st place. It's still early, and I'm not yet ready to panic. But I am getting damn concerned, and a little pissed off.

Unfortunately, nothing is going to change until the Tigers start hitting on a consistent basis. As to when that will happen, your guess is as good as Leyland's...and he doesn't have a clue when they will break out, going by his post game comments.

When your starting pitching has to perform without an offensive safety net...well, you saw what happens. It's been happening all season long.

3 ROARS:

Brayan Villarreal: Was lights out in relief of Smyly, throwing high 90's gas. 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Prince Fielder: His long home run put the Tigers on the board. The power is finally coming around. 2-5, HR, 2 RBI.

Delmon Young: Having great at-bats in this series. Young hit the longest double you'll ever see at Comerica, a 425 foot wall shot to the depths of left center. Just Young's luck to hit a bomb to the wrong part of the park, one which would have left most stadiums. 2-4, 2B.

3 HISSES:

Drew Smyly: We knew there would days like this for the rookie. Not all his starts will be gems.

Alex Avila: 0-4 day dropped his average to .218. Avila is not having good swings, especially with RISP, as shown by his .111 BA going into today's game. It'll drop even more after this loss.

Don Kelly (and by association, Jim Leyland): Kelly was 0-4 from the lead off spot. I'm sorry, but putting a .196 hitter with a .300 OBP at lead off is just plain stupid. Get well soon, Austin Jackson! You've been missed.

GAME 39 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Justin Verlander received 97% of the BYB vote. If narrowly missing a no-hitter won't get you 100% of the vote, nothing will.