After a come-from-behind victory on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, the Detroit Tigers came into the game looking to score their first series victory since taking two of three from the lowly Baltimore Orioles back in late May. Their opponents the Pirates are not exactly setting the baseball world on fire themselves, so the opportunity was ripe for the picking.
Jordan Zimmermann took the mound in his first start back from his injured list stint for a right UCL sprain he had been dealing with since late April. Before the injury, the 33-year-old former ace was not looking too good either, posting a 5.93 ERA in six starts despite some sterling performances in his first two outings of the year. In his final rehab appearance with Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, he only lasted 4.2 innings allowing four runs.
The game started like the last left off, with the Tigers pushing two runs across the plate in the first inning. Christin Stewart knocked in JaCoby Jones to notch the first score. He was followed up by Harold Castro, who brought him in two batters later to end the first frame with a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates would answer with a run in the bottom of the second off of a Trevor Williams single, driving in Josh Bell who reached base on a hit-by-pitch. Zimmermann would get out of the inning without further damage, but his inability to keep the Pirates off the basepaths portended an unfavorable outcome.
Undeterred by their starting pitcher’s shakiness, the Tigers came out for the third frame and put up a five-spot on the scoreboard. Niko Goodrum’s double brought home Nicholas Castellanos and Stewart, getting the rally started still with no outs. Brandon Dixon then drove in Goodrum on a powerful home run that left Miguel Cabrera as giddy as a school girl. Harold Castro would go back-to-back with Dixon on his first career home run to push the score to 7-1 — and sadly, would be the last run scored by the Tigers.
A sailor was on lookout when suddenly, a huge wave hit, throwing him across the ship.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 20, 2019
He crashed through the upper deck and landed right in the Captain's quarters.
The Captain asks, "Matey, ye be hurt?"
"Narrrr Cap'n," replied the sailor, "I've been through hardships before!" pic.twitter.com/qLwkTA2h58
The downward spiral began with Zimmermann surrendering two runs on a double by Corey Dickerson to cut the lead to 7-3. He ended up making it through the fourth inning, having given up three earned runs on five hits, one walk and four strikeouts. For better or for worse, he was forced to turn the game over to the bullpen after throwing 75 pitches.
With their relief corps muting the Tigers’ offense, the Pirates got to work on their comeback. They scored two in the fifth and three in the sixth frame — a Starling Marte home run and a Bryan Reynolds dinger driving in those runs, respectively — off of Nick Ramirez, who just did not have the mojo tonight. For some reason, manager Ron Gardenhire allowed him to bat and kept him in the game after his first inning of shakiness. By the end of the sixth inning, the Pirates had taken the lead for good.
Victor Alcántara was brought in to stop the bleeding, and got out of the sixth notching a strikeout among the two batters he faced. Blaine Hardy came in to close out the last two innings with a clean line and a strikeout to boot. His fine outing would be for naught, however, as the Tigers just could not scratch out another run.
Francisco Liriano made an #OldFriendAlert appearance and threw two innings for the hold, setting up closer Felipe Vázquez for the save. Cabrera ended the game pinch-hitting for Stewart, grounding out softly to third base on the first pitch. And with the loss, the two-game road series ends in a split.
The Good: The Tigers’ offense got off to a hot start, and it looked like the team would cruise to victory and take the road series. That, however, was not to be.
The Bad: Jordan Zimmermann’s performance was pretty much what one would expect from him after a return from the injured list. It was an inefficient outing that allowed the Pirates to bite into the soft underbelly of the team that is the bullpen.
The Ugly: Nick Ramirez’s meltdown, with an assist to Ron Gardenhire for leaving the wound exposed and sending him out to hit. Bad pitching and bad managing will always lead to bad results.
Who was the player of the game?
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Miguel Cabrera’s home run reaction