The final game of a three-game set, the first pair coming yesterday in a split doubleheader, saw the Pirates take the series with a 4-2 win on a pair of runs in the eighth inning.
The calendar said April, but the weather sure didn’t agree: it was a chilly 43°F (6°C) and a breezy 15 mph (24 km/h) wind made for some interesting times in the outfield. I was thinking yesterday morning, as I watched a layer of wet snow coat the ground, that a few days earlier I was doing yard work in shorts. Oh well, we’ll all be complaining about the heat in the Great Lakes area soon enough.
José Ureña was looking to build on his last solid start, but in the first it got off to a bit of a rocky beginning: a leadoff double by Adam Frazier, followed by a pair of singles by Bryan Reynolds and Erik Gonzalez, put the Bucs up 2-0. To Ureña’s credit, he settled down quite nicely after that, turning many a bat into kindling. Eleven of the first 16 outs he made were on ground balls, so he had the sinker going for him. Which is nice.
The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the second with a double by Niko Goodrum and a triple by... well you guessed it, Akil Baddoo.
Pittsburgh starter Mitch Keller was on-point through two outs in the fifth. He sat low- to mid-90s with his fastball, and really got on a roll and struck out three consecutive Tigers swinging in the 4th and 5th innings. Right after that third strikeout, though, JaCoby Jones got off the homer-schneid for the year with a rocket to right to tie the score.
Ureña’s pitch count stayed pretty low, starting the sixth at 70 pitches and getting the first two outs of the inning on two pitches. A crisp three-pitch strikeout followed, and Ureña was sitting pretty at 75 pitches through six.
Duane Underwood Jr. took over for Keller in the sixth and promptly struck out the first two he faced with a kitchen sink’s worth of well-located pitches. Jonathan Schoop followed with a single; don’t look now, but Schoop’s average is now above .200 for the second time after opening day. First baseman of the future, I daresay?
Jones wasn’t done, though, as he made a fine, fine play in centre to start the seventh.
Jones went on to tie a much-tied Major League Baseball record, with three putouts in the inning. History!
Baddoo led off the bottom of the seventh with what ultimately was a double. Evans went up above the fence to steal a home run, but it went off his glove and came back into the field of play. A short review confirmed the scenario, Baddoo ended up at second, but ultimately it was all for naught: a Jones single pushed Baddoo up to third, although with a goodread he probably could’ve scored, and a pair of flyouts left the inning tied, as it began.
José Cisnero took over for Ureña in the eighth, facing three hitters and preparing a sandwich in which the bread was strikeouts and the filling was a Frazier single to right. Gregory Soto was brought in to turn Reynolds around to hit righty, and Frazier was wild-pitched to second. Reynolds walked; singles by Colin Moran and Gonzalez made it 4-2 for the Pirates.
Alex Lange came on to work the top of the ninth, Gregory Polanco greeted him with a single to right, and promptly stole second. A popout and strikeout followed; Daniel Norris was brought in to face Frazier, a soft fly ball eventually retired him.
Richard Rodriguez retired the Tigers in the ninth without much trouble, and that was the series.
The Kansas City Royals come into town for a four-game wraparound series starting Friday night.
Lousy Statistic of the Day
Number of walks by Tiger hitters in this game: 0.
Notes and Nibbles
- Ureña’s final line today: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. His final line on April 16 against Oakland: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. If you can get seven solid innings out of Ureña... my my, that would be delightful.
- How many of Akil Baddoo’s first 13 hits in the Major Leagues been for extra bases? Ten.
- Happy Earth Day, everyone! Go hug a tree for me.