For the second night in a row, the Detroit Tigers rode dominant starting pitching to a shutout win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tonight, Alfredo Simon (2-0) was the man in charge, throwing eight shutout innings en route to a 1-0 win. Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (0-1) took the loss despite allowing just one run on four hits in six innings. Joakim Soria worked a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save of the year.
Neither team was able to mount much of a scoring threat in the early innings. J.D. Martinez reached on a single in the second inning and stole second base with one out, but was stranded without advancing. Jose Iglesias repeated the feat in the third inning, but did not score. The Pirates had two runners on base with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but a groundout by Starling Marte ended the inning.
Rajai Davis opened up the scoring in the top of the sixth inning, lining a first-pitch breaking ball from Liriano into the left field stands to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera tried a similar aggressive approach after Davis' homer, but both were retired on one pitch.
That is all the offense Simon would need. The 33-year-old righthander baffled the Pirates all night, allowing just two hits in eight shutout innings. Simon's only real threat was in the fourth inning, and he did not allow a runner to reach third base. He retired the final 13 batters he faced and threw 108 pitches in eight innings.
There was a lengthy delay in the top of the ninth inning after a pitch from Pirates closer Mark Melancon glanced off of catcher Francisco Cervelli's glove into home plate umpire Jerry Layne's mask. Layne was shaken up and left the game, while second base umpire Bob Davidson donned the padding to take over behind the plate. The diminished umpiring crew took a moment to determine whether Cabrera had made contact with the pitch, which came in a 3-2 count. Cabrera was eventually awarded first base.
The Tigers are off tomorrow and begin a three-game weekend series with the Chicago White Sox on Friday. David Price will start for the Tigers against White Sox righthander Jeff Samardzija.
Alfredo Simon: After getting shelled in the sixth inning of his last start, Simon was able to work seven scoreless innings tonight. He only allowed two hits and no walks, inducing plenty of weak contact along the way. Simon's biggest miscue was hitting Andrew McCutchen with a pitch in the first inning. Simon did not allow a Pirate to reach third base.
Rajai Davis: Rajai led off the sixth inning with a first-pitch home run off of Francisco Liriano, breaking a scoreless tie.
Nick Castellanos: Despite getting picked off of first base in the fifth inning, Castellanos had a solid game. He singled twice and made a couple of nice plays in the field. He snared a sharp grounder from Josh Harrison in the bottom of the sixth, and showed good awareness to make an easy force play with two on and two out in the fifth.
James McCann: The rookie backstop threw out McCutchen on a steal attempt in the bottom of the first, but he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts at the plate.
The middle of the order: Neither team was able to string much of anything together tonight, but the heart of the Tigers' batting order was all but lifeless tonight. Kinsler, Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes were a combined for .
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Tonight's outing was Simon's first career start of eight innings with zero earned runs. He has never pitched into the ninth inning as a starter.
- The Tigers are the fifth MLB team since 1914 to record four shutouts in their first nine games. The Oakland A's have already accomplished that feat this year.
- The Tigers lead baseball with five starting pitching performances of eight innings or more with zero runs allowed.
- The Tigers have won each of their first three series in a season for the first time since 1984.
- Jose Iglesias did not strike out until his 30th plate appearance of 2015. It was just his second swing-and-miss of the season.
Before that one, the last Jose Iglesias strikeout that counted was the one vs. Koji Uehara that ended Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) April 16, 2015
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: