Shane Greene looked good early on in terms of velocity and movement, hitting 96 and featuring a filthy cutter. Alas, the command was absent. He fell behind Andrew McCutchen after a lead off single, but struck him out on three excellent pitches. Freese then reached on a grounder to Castellanos. Greene issued walks to Marte and Cervelli (on four pitches), driving in a run. Polanco grounded out to short, but his speed prevented a double play, 2-0 Pirates. Harrison struck out to end the inning with Greene sitting at a gentlemen's 35 pitches.
Ryan Vogelsong, yes, him, left the second inning with four strikeouts. Helping Vogelsong was the strike zone that had totally lost the plot. The home plate umpire stood there, helplessly calling strikes while the erratic zone danced this way and that. Fortunately Greene got it under control in the second and the Pirates went down 1-2-3 on ten pitches. He was solid for the rest of the game.
The Tigers went down 1-2-3 as well in the third. Anthony Gose picked up a single, but was promptly thrown out trying to take the extra base. The Tigers continued their effort to make America realize just how difficult it is to run the bases. We take for granted that bases are simply ran, but that is not so. The base paths are a complex minefield with opportunities for mistakes and misadventures at every turn.
The fourth inning opened with Andrew McCutchen drifting back on a fly ball off the bat of Kinsler, camping out under it, and tricking everyone, as the ball in fact left the yard 30 feet behind him. Why did he do this? I do not know, but it was a pleasant surprise. Upton followed with a well-hit single to right. Cabrera flew out to right field on the warning track. J.D. Martinez followed with an opposite field double, putting men on second and third with one out. Castellanos grounded out to third. Saltalamacchia, in a bid to become an early fan favorite of 2016, hit a ball well, but it again died on the warning track. 2-1, Pirates. Greene responded with another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth.
Vogelsong remained inscrutable, but was pulled after 66 pitches and five innings. Greene had another 1-2-3 inning thanks to a fine catch from Martinez in right field. Kinsler made a bid for his second home run in the sixth, but it fell just shy, into the glove of Polanco. Miggy got a two-out double and J.D. followed with a walk. A Nick Castellanos single loaded the bases for Saltalamacchia. This time he did not miss. The man with the name that launched a thousand absurd looking shirseys connected for a grand slam. 5-2, Tigers. Jose Iglesias walked and the Pirates finally had enough of Caminero. Gose struck out to end the inning, but nobody cared.
Tyler Collins committed yet another Tigers' base running blunder in the seventh. Justin Wilson cruised through the bottom of the inning with ease. Mark Lowe issued a lead off walk in the bottom of the eighth. A familiar, dark feeling of helpless desperation began creeping in. McCutchen just missed a home run, driving in a run. Lowe escaped and the Tigers fortunately got two back in the top of ninth, making it 7-3, Tigers. Rodriguez issued a lead off walk, but a double play and a fly out ended the inning. The hard contact was troubling, but that was the ballgame.
Shane Greene: The right-hander put together a solid day after a rough first inning, going six innings with seven strikeouts, two earned runs, three walks and three hits in 97 pitches. His excellent velocity and movement were overall very encouraging for someone who could be a key part of the team this season.
The Bullpen: For making us dare to dream.
Saltalamacchia: Grand slam earns a roar.
Giving up free outs on the bases: It is a bad baseball strategy
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Shane Greene struck out Andrew McCutchen three times
- Saltalamacchia hit his 100th career home run
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: