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Pirates 3, Tigers 2: Offense sputters as Tigers drop series

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Both teams left a ton of runners on base but it was the Tigers who end up on the wrong side of the fail ledger.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A night of lots of traffic and little run scoring was the theme in Pittsburgh as the Tigers took on the Pirates in the second of a three game series. This was not a very eventful game outside of a few plays as both teams seemed to play a big game of chicken to see who could flirt closest with disaster. Ultimately it was the Tigers who would slip up and give up the winning runs. A final score of 3-2 for Pittsburgh on a night with so many baserunners did not make for much viewing entertainment on either side, though there were some good moments.

Wily Peralta and the Tigers fell behind early as they got into a jam in the first inning. Ke’Bryan Hayes singled and then advanced to second on a walk, scooted over to third and scored on a pair of flyouts. But Peralta managed to escape a big inning and left only trailing by one. This would be the theme for most of the night for Tigers pitchers. Every inning would feature the Pirates getting at least one man into scoring position. To the Tigers credit, they did not allow those runners to score after the first inning for the rest of Peralta’s outing.

He got some big plays from his defense to help him out along the way. In the bottom of the second, with runners on second and third and one out, Hayes grounded out to Candelario who threw home to get the runner, and then Derek Hill ended the inning with this leaping catch at the wall in deep right-centerfield.

The Tigers scored to take the lead in the top of the third inning when Derek Hill roped a line drive into the left field corner and Ben Gamel uncorked a Delmon Young-esque throw to the cutoff man, which allowed Willi Castro to easily score from first and Hill to end up on third. Hill would score the go-ahead run on a Robbie Grossman single. That’s the way the score would remain until the bottom of the sixth. The Tigers had opportunities in the following innings but ran into outs on the base. Grossman was caught stealing, and double plays ended minor threats in the sixth and seventh.

The Pirates almost tied it up in the bottom of the third on a bloop single, but Schoop cut it off and threw a laser to Haase at home to get Moran to end the inning. Moran probably would have scored had he been running full speed the whole way but he looked to have pulled up rounding third when he saw the ball initially drop and figured no one would get it. Peralta would end up tossing 4 innings of high traffic baseball, leaving in the fifth inning with 6 hits, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts, but just the one run allowed.

Though Peralta departed the game at the start of the fifth inning, the relievers that followed him continued the pattern of getting into big jams. Miguel Del Pozo pitched a scoreless inning but allowed a hit and a walk. Alex Lange came on in the sixth and after getting the first two outs, came completely unglued. Yoshi Tsutsugo reached on a infield single to ignite trouble, and Brian Reynolds ripped a double to right field to put runners on second and third. Lange, struggling with his command, walked Colin Moran to load the bases for Ben Gamel. In a 1-1 count, Lange grooved a middle-middle fastball and Gamel slapped a two-run single to right field. Those runs eventually proved the difference in the game.

Kyle Funkhouser pitched the seventh and recorded the only 1-2-3 inning for a Detroit pitcher. Cisnero got the eighth and allowed a hit and a walk. Cabrera doubled to leadoff the eight inning but was stranded. Hittin’ Harold Castro lead off the ninth with a single but he too was stranded as Hill and Baddoo struck out and Schoop flied out harmlessly to center. Game over, and none too soon. This was not a fun one to watch or listen to. Somehow, the Pirates always seem to drag the Tigers into the low scoring, grinding style of game that is their wheelhouse, and too often it’s not the Tigers coming out ahead.