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Tigers 5, Pirates 4: Bullpen bends, breaks, but gets the win

Norris solid, offense comes alive, bullpen hangs on for wild win.

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After a weekend sweep at home at the hands of the Indians, the Detroit Tigers came into Pittsburgh motivated to get a win. They responded and got a much-needed W, as the offense came alive — thanks to three errors by the Pirates — and a solid start from Daniel Norris. Mitch Keller made his third career start; his first two had gone badly, and this one was not much better.

Norris worked quickly in his start, setting down the Pirates in order in the first. Josh Bell took Norris deep in the bottom of the second inning with a massive blast to center to score the first run of the game. Norris then retired the Pirates on nine pitches in the third inning, followed by a six-pitch inning in the fourth. Through the fourth, nine of the Pirates’ 14 plate appearances had ended in three pitches or fewer.

Trailing by one, the Tigers struck back in the third inning. Things started off bleak, as JaCoby Jones and Daniel Norris recorded the first two outs — though Norris battled Mitch Keller for nine pitches before striking out, immediately making him the fifth-best hitter on the current roster. Niko Goodrum drew a two-out, four pitch walk, and came home on a Nicholas Castellanos double on an 0-2 pitch. Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI single to left-center, which Castellanos had to dive under as it buzzed over his head. For all of Miguel’s struggles this year, he is batting .435 with runners in scoring position, good for second-best in Major League Baseball.

The Tigers continued the onslaught in the fourth inning, as Brandon Dixon led off with a single, followed by a Harold Castro sacrifice bunt, which Keller fielded but threw over the head of Bell at first base, putting runners at second and third with no one out. John Hicks followed with a line shot into the left field corner, scoring two, but was thrown out going for second as he over-slid the base.

While Fox Sports Detroit’s Johnny Kane took a booze cruise for one down the Allegheny River, the Pirates pushed a run across in the bottom of the fifth, as Elias Diaz singled and then scored on a Jung Ho Kang triple. Norris would bear down and strand the runner, but the Pirates made him throw 22 pitches in the inning.

Norris got back on the quick pitch train, as he got through the sixth inning on 12 pitches. With his pitch count at 84 and his spot coming up third in the following inning, Gardenhire was faced with a unique decision because National League rules are stupid. Indeed, Gardenhire lifted Norris for Victor Reyes because National League rules are stupid reasons. Reyes did draw a rare walk, but was thrown out trying to steal second.

This meant that the Tigers’ two-run lead was in the hands of its bullpen, tasked with getting nine outs. They would record only two before the trio of Victor Alcantara, Daniel Stumpf, and Buck Farmer surrendered the lead.

The Tigers mounted a rally in the eighth, however. A walk and single by Castellanos and Cabrera, respectively, put two on with one out for Stewart, who got hit ever so slightly by a slider in the dirt to load the bases for Brandon Dixon — second on the Tigers (to Miguel Cabrera) in batting average with runners in scoring position (.424). Dixon grounded to second, but the throw went to first base and the relay to second was not turned in time, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Joe Jimenez took the ball in the bottom of the inning, and though he would struggle with contact, command, and hit batters, he narrowly escaped with the lead.

That would prove to be enough, as Shane Greene came on to secure yet another save, though it was shaky; Greene put two runners on, but got the dangerous Josh Bell to ground into a game-ending double play. Greene’s ERA now sits at a minuscule 0.93 on the season.


Who Was the Tigers Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Daniel Norris
    (215 votes)
  • 8%
    Nicholas Castellanos
    (25 votes)
  • 14%
    Shane Greene
    (42 votes)
282 votes total Vote Now