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Tigers 3, Pirates 1 : Faedo pilots Detroit to a two-game sweep

Alex Faedo was excellent once again, while the offense was pretty shaky but managed to get the job done.

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

The Tigers wasted a lot of opportunities in this one, but another strong performance from rookie Alex Faedo carried them to a two-game sweep of the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon.

The Tigers swung the bats well early in this one, but didn’t come away with much. After Harold Castro started the game with a fly out, Jonathan Schoop singled. Miguel Cabrera unfortunately struck out, but Austin Meadows drilled a single to right and the Tigers had two on with two out. So of course Javier Báez struck out.

A similar scenario started to unfold in the top of the second as Spencer Torkelson walked to start the frame, but watched as Kody Clemens and Eric Haase made quick outs. However this time, Daz Cameron hammered a drive that hit the top of the wall and got away from Brian Reynolds in center field. Torkelson scored as Cameron roared into third with an RBI triple. Harold Castro grounded out to end the inning, but the Tigers were on the board first.

Another opportunity went by in the top of the third, as Austin Meadows ripped a two-out double off Mitch Keller. However, once again, Báez struck out swinging.

To this point, Alex Faedo had no trouble at all with the Pirates. In the bottom of the third, Yu Chang and Michael Perez singled with one out for the first threat he had to deal with, but the rookie right-hander was easily up to the challenge, striking out Ke’Bryan Hayes and Brian Reynolds to turn the Pirates away. Faedo had seven strikeouts through three innings, and while the slider was sharp, the fastball and changeup were working for him as well.

The Pirates finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Jack Sucwinski homered to right field to leadoff the frame. With the game now tied, Faedo got three quick outs to end the fourth, and then handled the fifth without much trouble, issuing a walk to Chang, but he was erased by Haase and Báez trying to steal second to end the inning.

Faedo’s day ended with another strong final line. 5.0 IP, ER, 3 H, BB, 7 SO. He threw 54 of 82 pitches for strikes, and got a whopping 17 whiffs on the outing.

By this point, Keller was long off the hook and settled in, and he retired the Tigers with relative ease in the fifth and sixth innings. Andrew Chafin issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth as he took over, but he was able to retire the next three hitters in order.

Wil Crowe took over in the top of the seventh and he struck out the side, Clemens, Haase, and Cameron, with ease. Will Vest handled the bottom half of the inning for Detroit and he got a pair of quick ground outs before striking out Tucupita Marcano to end the inning.

Crowe came back out for the eighth, and Harold Castro greeted him with an opposite field single. Schoop battled through an eight pitch AB and singled to center, though it took a challenge to get the right result as Reynolds was initially ruled to have made the catch. That brought up the “heart” of the order with no outs and two on. They had the right guy for the job, as Miguel Cabrera lined a single to center, scoring Castro. 2-1 Tigers.

Willi Castro came into pinch run for Cabrera, while Austin Meadows lined out to second base for the first out of the inning. Manager Derek Shelton pulled Crowe at that point, turning to Chris Stratton instead to handle Báez. Handle him he did, getting the shortstop to ground one back to him to start a 1-4-3 double play. Nice to break up the monotony of striking out three times with runners on base, twice to end an inning, with a double play ball instead. Arrgghh.

Mama said Javy would have days like this, but it’s getting a little scary despite recent signs of life.

Still, the Tigers had a one run lead, and Michael Fulmer on to hold it in the bottom of the eighth. He started things off right, freezing Travis Swaggerty with a power sinker. Michael Perez lined out to Cameron in center field, and Fulmer struck out Hayes to end a strong inning. Fulmer hit 97 mph a couple of times and looked stronger than he has most of this spring. That sent us to the top of the ninth.

Stratton faced Torkelson first and struck him out. Derek Hill grounded out to shortstop, but Haase came through with a solid line drive single to center field. Stratton fell behind 3-0, but worked his way to a full count against Daz Cameron. However Cameron came through again, lining his patented opposite field double into the corner to score Haase and give Gregory Soto a bit of breathing room in the bottom of the ninth.

Cameron had a really nice day at the plate overall with an RBI triple and an RBI double to one strikeout against. Harold Castro grounded out to strand Cameron at second.

That left it all in Gregory Soto’s hands in the bottom of the ninth. Brian Reynolds grounded out to Schoop to start things off. Michael Chavis lined out to Hill in center field. Soto lost the plot temporarily against Daniel Vogelbach, walking the lefty slugger on five pitches, few of which were anywhere near the strike zone. Diego Castillo followed with a single to center, and that pushed Vogelbach over to third. Cal Mitchell put up a battle, but eventually Soto blazed a 101 mph fastball by him and Mitchell foul tipped it into the glove for strike three, and his 12th save of the year.

The Tigers will have another off day on Thursday as they return home to take on the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend. RHP Elvin Rodriguez gets the start as he welcomes in RHP Jose Berrios on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Beau Brieske vs. Kevin Gausman and Tarik Skubal vs. Ross Stripling will follow on Saturday and Sunday.