The Detroit Tigers tried losing once, but it didn't fit their style. After suffering their first loss of the season yesterday, the Tigers evened their series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday at PNC Park. Shane Greene (2-0) was the star, picking up his second win of the year with another spectacular performance. Greene threw eight shutout innings while allowing just three baserunners, none of whom reached second base. Pirates starter A.J. Burnett (0-1) took the loss, allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings. Joakim Soria picked up his third save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Greene and Burnett went toe-to-toe for most of the night, holding a pair of powerful offenses in check. Neither team was able to mount much of a threat early on, but the Tigers held a slight advantage in the hit column. The Tigers threatened with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. J.D. Martinez laced a single into right-center, then Yoenis Cespeds lined a double off of the right field wall. Martinez was only able to reach third base, and Nick Castellanos struck out on a Burnett curveball to end the inning.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead on a two-out single by Rajai Davis in the bottom of the sixth. Alex Avila and Jose Iglesias drew back-to-back walks with one out, but Greene was unable to lay down a bunt, striking out on four pitches. After working a 3-1 count, Davis slapped a single past a diving Neil Walker, scoring Avila and sending Burnett to the showers. Ian Kinsler grounded out on a check swing roller to end the inning.
That's all the offense Greene would need, though. He kept the Pirates off balance all game long, allowing just three hits and no walks in eight shutout innings. Greene threw just 81 pitches, 56 for strikes. His defense made a few excellent plays behind him, including a slick play from Iglesias and a diving catch from Kinsler. Greene was in the dugout with a batting helmet on during the top of the ninth inning, but the Tigers used Victor Martinez as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning, ending Greene's night.
The Tigers were able to tack on an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Jose Iglesias lined a hit into center field with one out, then outhustled a lackadaisical Andrew McCutchen, turning a would-be single into a double. After Martinez struck out, Davis worked a two-out walk in a lengthy plate appearance. Kinsler made the Pirates pay, lining a single into left field to score Iglesias and extend the score to 2-0.
The Tigers and Pirates will finish off their series tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. Alfredo Simon and Francisco Liriano are the scheduled starting pitchers. Tonight's win ensured that the Tigers would finish their six-game road trip with a winning record.
Shane Greene's arm: Greene was the star of tonight's game, working efficiently and keeping the Pirates off balance. He had a few hard hit balls against him, but his defense was able to make plays behind him. The rest of the time, Greene was pounding the strike zone (he threw 56 strikes in 81 pitches) and inducing plenty of awkward swings.
Jose Iglesias: The Tigers' young shortstop flashed his talented glove multiple times, including on a diving play that did not record an out. Iglesias was able to get a glove on a grounder up the middle from Pedro Alvarez, and made a throw from his backside. The play wasn't particularly close at first base, but the fact that Iglesias was even able to make it was incredible. Iglesias also added a crucial walk in the seventh and a hustle double in the ninth inning.
Ian Kinsler: The other half of the Tigers' double play tandem was also a two-way threat tonight. Kinsler ended the bottom of the eighth with a spectacular diving catch on a line drive off the bat of Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer. After Davis walked with two outs in the top of the ninth, Kinsler lined a single to left field, scoring Iglesias to make the score 2-0.
Rajai Davis: Brad Ausmus' decision to pencil Davis into the lineup against the right-handed Burnett was questionable, but Davis rewarded his skipper's faith with two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. Davis' RBI single in the seventh inning broke a scoreless tie, and his two-out walk in the ninth extended the inning, leading to a key insurance run. Davis also ranged to deep center field for a catch on the warning track in the eighth inning.
Shane Greene's bat: It's hard to ding a guy for something that isn't exactly in his job description, but Greene was all but defenseless at the plate tonight, striking out three times. He failed to get bunts down both times he came to the plate with runners on base.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Greene is the first Tigers pitcher to start a season with back-to-back starts of at least eight innings without an earned run since Bob Sykes in 1978.
- Greene is the first pitcher to throw at least eight shutout innings in 81 pitches or fewer with no walks since Aaron Cook threw a two-hit shutout for the Boston Red Sox on June 29, 2012. It was the seventh such game since 2000.
- Yoenis Cespedes doubled in the top of the fourth inning, his 12th hit of the year. He has reached base in seven of the Tigers' eight games this season.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: