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Pirates 4, Tigers 1 : One swing of Andrew McCutchen's bat beats the Tigers

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The Pittsburgh Pirates took the 2nd game of their weekend interleague series with the Detroit Tigers, 4-1. Brad Lincoln got the victory, no-hitting the Tigers for 5 innings.Andrew McCutchen's 3 run home run supplied all the offense the Pirates would need.

Lincoln tossed 6 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 run. The victory raised his record to 4-2. Closer Joel Hanrahan converted his19th save of the season. The Tigers' Max Scherzer also pitched 6 full innings, adding 7 strike outs. The 1 mistake to McCuthen was all it took to give him the loss, Scherzer's record falling to 6-5. Miguel Cabrera supplied all the Tigers' offense with his 15th home run of the season.

The story of the game? No offense...again. No run support...again.

Friday night, the Tigers could only muster 2 hits off of A.J,. Burnett in 6 innings. Brad Lincoln did him even better, carrying a no-hitter through 5. It was broken up by Ramon Santiago's softly hit, but clean, single leading off the 6th.

The 4th was Scherzer's Waterloo, so to speak. He had been dominant through 3 innings, but allowed a lead off leg double to Alex Presely. Jose Tabata, as is the NL way, then squared to bunt. But Scherzer's pitch tailed inside, hitting Tabata (a name which sounds like it's straight out of a spaghetti western). The ever dangerous McCutchen followed. Scherzer had him down 0-2, but his 3rd pitch was a 95 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate. McCutchen smoked Scherzer's mistake over the left field wall for his 13th home run of the season and a 3-0 lead.

With the Pirates holding a 3 run lead, Lincoln in beast mode and the Tigers' offense in midst of an ugly slump, the middle of the order had to break out of a 3 game coma. It did in the 7th. Cabrera busted out of an 0-16 slump with a solo shot leading off the inning, his 15th home run of the season. The homer also ended Lincoln's afternoon, having allowed 2 hits, 1 run and a career high 7 strikeouts.

Fielder followed with a long double to left center off of Juan Cruz. There was 1 run in, a runner in scoring position, and no one out. Rally time! But it was, as the cool kids on Twitter say, #FalseHope. Delmon Young and Alex Avila grounded out, and the so-called rally ended on the left field warning track. Jhonny Peralta's deep fly landed a foot short of the wall, in the glove of McCutchen.

Phil Coke took over for a Scherzer in the 7th...and allowed a double and 2 singles, immediately giving back a run. Even Rod Allen was disappointed by the turn of events. On the social networks, the fan base wasn't disappointed, they were busy having an apoplectic fit.

Ocatavio Dotel was brought on to quell the uprising. With runners on 1st and 3rd and this being an NL park, you knew what was coming...the squeeze. But Josh Harrison failed miserably, whiffing on the bunt, the runner on 3rd out after a short rundown. But the Pirates had their 3 run lead back, which was plenty when facing the Tigers' pop-gun offense.

Dotel pitched out of trouble again in the 8th, giving the Tigers one last chance. Hanrahan allowed a pair of base runners, but struck out Avila to end the misery.

The Tigers will try to salvage 1 game of the series. I like their odds with Justin Verlander on the mound. Why? Because he is capable of throwing a no-hiter at any time...and may have to, considering the state of the offense

A word on Max Scherzer.:

Last night the Tigers released a statement saying Scherzer had been away from the team for personal reasons. They did not say anything more, and haven't since. There are credible rumors about a Scherzer family tragedy, and some in the local and national media have wrote and/or tweeted about it. But not one of them mentioned a source. There has been no official statement from either the Tigers or Scherzer. So we're not going to write anything speculative about the situation.

But Scherzer is definitely going through some kind of family crisis. To go out and pitch 6 strong innings under what is rumored to be awful circumstances says volumes about Scherzer as a player and person.

Bullets:

  • Before you say. "The Tigers can't beat the PIRATES?", take a look at their record. This is a good team.
  • The streak of series wins ends at 4.
  • The Tigers have scored 5 runs in their last 4 games, wasting some solid pitching performances. The offense is so far off track, there is no track in sight. The talent is there to get back on track...but haven't we been saying that since the 3 week of April?
  • Cabrera was dealing with his 2nd lengthy slump of the season, having reached 0-16 after striking out in the 4th. His home run stopped the streak from reaching April proportions, when Cabrera was 0-21.
  • Delmon Young had gone 27 games without a walk before taking a base on balls in the 9th. (Hat tip to Lee Panas of Tiger Tales for the stat) To paraphrase a wise man named Ralph Wiggum, "27 games? That's unpossible!"
  • Jason Grill tossed a 1-2-3 inning against his former team for the 2nd consecutive game. Grilli is no longer a human gas can.
  • Your daily Quintin Berry update: 0-1, grounded out pinch hitting for Danny Worth in the 8th.

So what happens next?

With the Tigers' offense looking limper than a stick of celery left in the fridge for a month, The Detroit News' Lynn Henning to to Twitter and started making predictions:

Tigers back-half lineup hasn't hit all season. Now, with Cabrera and Young swinging dueling banjos, they're helpless. Moves are imminent.

OK. What kind of moves? Trades? A benching? Someone getting sent down or DFA? TELL US, LYNN!

Actually, he does.

Tigers anticipated moves: Delmon gone, trade for (Quentin?). Scutaro pried loose from Rockies? Deals won't be cheap. But time's dissolving.

Everyone wants Young gone. Fans don't care if he's traded, cut, benched, whatever. Does Quintin Berry have any trade value? As part of a package...maybe. But he's far from proven, which is why his trade value is nil. Berry is worth more to the Tigers for the dimension he adds than he would to another team. The name Marco Scutero being thrown around as a viable deadline pickup says it all about the market for middle infielders. The Tigers will be picking at scraps. Hell, I'd rather ride it out with the players the Tigers have at 2nd and look to improve the offense elsewhere, such as corner outfield and DH.

I'm sure ALL of you have thoughts on Henning's predictions. Maybe you have a few of your own?

3 ROARS:

Max Scherzer: 1 mistake to McCutchen marred a very good performance.

Miguel Cabrera: His home run was the Tigers' entire offense.

Prince Fielder: 2 hits, the only Tiger to reach base more than once.

3 HISSES:

Phil Coke: Faced 3 Pirates, all 3 had base hits.

Delmon Young: It's obligatory at this point.

Brennan Boesch: Again, it's obligatory.

GAME 70 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Luis Marte's 2 innings of shutout relief was good enough to gain 41% of the vote and win player of the game.