In recent years, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ run prevention and small ball oriented lineup have made for a lot of tense, low scoring games with the Tigers. Not this year. From the wild game on Opening Day, to the slugfest that broke out in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, we’ve seen some crazy baseball recently when these teams meet. The Tigers out-mashed the Pirates en route to a 13-10 victory, despite numerous poor performances from the pitching staff.
This Jordan Zimmermann thing just isn’t going to get better, guys. He got through one clean inning in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader before the wheels fell off. The Tigers raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Leonys Martin rebounded after fouling a ball off a very sensitive area of the body to lead off the game with a solo shot. Jeimer Candelario and JaCoby Jones each doubled to produce the second run. Unfortunately, Zimmermann gave the runs right back in the bottom half of the frame when Colin Moran launched a two-run moonshot to right field.
In the third, Zimmermann might have escaped a jam with just one run in, had a review not overturned a force play at second as footage showed that Niko Goodrum had taken his foot off the bag before catching a feed from Jose Iglesias. The play left runners at first and second. Zimmermann struck out Corey Dickerson, but then hung a slider which Francisco Cervelli demolished into the left field seats. Another day, another series of hard hit balls and strikeouts, without enough middle ground.
Zimmermann was toast, but the Tigers’ offense is just too gritty to lie down and tank. They pushed across a run in the third, and then erupted in the fourth. James McCann led off the inning with a solo shot. Jose Iglesias and Leonys Martin both singled. Miguel Cabrera brought them home with an absolute rocket off the right field wall. Nicholas Castellanos followed with a two-run shot, and the Tigers were back on top 8-6.
Warwick Saupold gave up one run but couldn’t escape a fifth inning jam that Daniel Stumpf had to rescue him from. Jeimer Candelario then cracked his fourth home run of the year to make the score 9-7. Daniel Stumpf gave the Tigers four outs to get them to the bottom of the seventh.
The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the eighth and another in the ninth. They needed most of them to hang on after an ugly three-run inning off Joe Jimenez. It was not one of the better pitched games you’ll ever see, on either side, to put it dryly. Shane Greene had little trouble in his inning of work though, quickly racking up another save, and the Tigers moved to a 10-11 record with a chance to hit .500 in the nightcap.
PNC Park doesn’t usually see this kind of power
In 2017, the Pirates home at PNC Park saw the second least home runs allowed of any venue in major league baseball. So it was a bit of a surprise to see five home runs through six innings this afternoon. Especially on a day filled with bouts of drizzle and mist. However, these weren’t cheap home runs. Every one of them was crushed, though the hardest hit ball of the day was probably Miguel Cabrera’s laser beam of a double that somehow didn’t quite clear the right field wall in the fourth inning. The Tigers collected 20 hits in this one, while the Pirates had 14. That is the most combined by two teams in a regulation came this year according to the FSD research team.
Jones and Candelario continue to rake
The Tigers offense just raged in game one, but the key takeaway was the continued success of a pair of young players. While Cabrera and Castellanos are expected to mash, and did, it’s JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario who are really exciting the Tigers’ fanbase at the moment.
Jones ripped a double, a single, drew a walk, scored a run, and absolutely smoked the ball in another at bat, lining out to right field. He also made a nice defensive play early in the game, cutting off a line drive heading into the left field corner. Jones wheeled and threw a picture perfect strike to second base to hold the batter to a single.
Candelario, who we profiled earlier today in respect to the vulgar display of power he’s put on so far, lived up to the billing. Candelario went 3 for 6, scoring five runs, and chipping in a double and his fourth home run of the season. As discussed by Rod Allen on the broadcast, Candelario had seen 54 more pitches than anyone else on the Tigers prior to his appearance in the ninth inning. He continues to provide a miserable experience for opposing pitchers by showing good discipline and spoiling a lot of tough pitches. It’s been an extremely impressive introduction to the young third baseman.
Jordan Zimmermann is an issue that won’t go away
After another disastrous outing, Zimmermann’s ERA stands at 7.31. He’s striking out plenty of hitters—in fact his K-BB ratio is downright stellar—but not enough to save himself from the hard contact and home runs that are piling up every time he takes the mound. He had a bit of bad luck on Wednesday, but he’s getting hammered with every mistake and the margin for error just seems non-existent. The Tigers owe Zimmermann over $60 million through 2020, but there’s a reckoning coming this summer if he can’t stabilize the situation. Not only is he hurting the team’s chances of winning games, he’s taking their bullpen and putting a lot of other guys in bad position to succeed. The Tigers will no doubt cling to any shred of hope a while longer, but at some point they’ll have to concede that their investment in Zimmermann is simply a lost cause.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
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