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Tigers 7, Pirates 4: Nick Castellanos blasts Detroit to sweep in Pittsburgh

Three hits on three first-pitch swings led to a big day for Nick Castellanos and lifted Detroit to a two-game sweep in Pittsburgh.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Castellanos led the Tigers with three hits and four RBI, and Jordan Zimmermann extended his scoreless streak to his first 13 innings of the season, as the Tigers beat the Pirates 7-4 on Thursday. Detroit took three of the four games in the home-and-home series and extended its record to 6-2 on the season.

Castellanos came into the game with just two hits in his last 14 at bats, following a perfect 4-for-4 day in the home opener. All three of his hits came on the first offering of the at bat and two of them came at opportune times. Ian Kinsler was the only other Tiger to record a multihit game, with two.

After Pirates' starter Gerrit Cole threw three perfect innings to open the game, the Tigers finally had their opportunity to break through in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Castellanos drilled the ball 399 feet to dead center field, scoring both runs for a 2-0 lead.

Cole's day ended after six innings, five strikeouts, four hits, a walk, and two runs allowed.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, couldn't take advantage of its best chances early. The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Zimmermann got Josh Harrison to ground into the inning's final out. Three singles in the fifth inning loaded the bases with Pirates, but a pair of short fly balls ended that threat as well.

Zimmermann finished the day with six scoreless innings, extending his Tigers career to 13 shutout frames to open the year. He struck out four.

The Tigers' bullpen was more of an adventure, as has been its M.O. Drew VerHagen allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while failing even to make it through a full inning.

A sac RBI by J.D. Martinez and two-run homer to left field off Castellanos' bat gave Detroit a 7-3 cushion, then Mark Lowe allowed a run of his own on three hits and a walk in the eighth. Fortunately for the Tigers, closer Francisco Rodriguez had a clean ninth that looked a little better in the box score than it did in the game, for his second save of the year.

John Jaso and David Freese both had three-hit days for the Pirates.

ROARS:

Jordan Zimmermann -- His three six shutout innings, bringing him to 13 scoreless innings to open his Tigers career. He gave up six hits and two walks while striking out four and escaping a pair of bases-loaded situations.

Nick Castellanos -- Three hits, including a home run and four RBI. He put the Tigers on the board first in the fourth inning with a two-out double to deep center (though he unsuccessfully attempted to stretch it into a triple for reasons unbeknownst to anyone). He also singled in the seventh.

HISSES:

Drew Verhagen -- Gave up  three runs in the seventh inning on three hits, a walk and a poorly fielded comebacker. The Tigers' lead went from four runs to one by the end of his day.

Mark Lowe -- He got the Tigers out of the seventh only to put them in trouble in the eighth, allowing a run on three hits.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • Ian Kinsler now has at least one hit in seven of the Tigers' eight games this year. Of those, he has multiple hits in give games.
  • Kinsler's stolen base in the eighth inning was the team's first of the 2016 season.
  • With two walks, J.D. Martinez has safely reached base in all eight Tigers games this season. Seven of those have been hits and four of those have been multi-hit games.
  • With a sixth-inning single Justin Upton now has at least one hit in seven of eight games. Four have an extra-base hit. With a K in the ninth he has struck out at least once in every game.
  • Nick Castellanos had three hits on first-pitch offerings. He's now 5-for-10 with two HR and five RBI when he swings at the first pitch this year.
  • The Tigers have scored four or more runs during each of their first eight games, doing so for the first time since 2004. They're up to 49 runs on the year.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs