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Tigers 4, Pirates 0: Just a good, smothering win

The third nice start in a row from Michael Lorenzen paved the way for a relatively stress-free Tiger win.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

After an off-day on Monday, the Tigers and Pirates faced off on Tuesday evening in Detroit for the first of a pair of midweek games. Six shutout innings from the Tigers starter, capped off with three perfect innings from the bullpen, made four early runs stand up in a 4-0 Tiger victory.

Michael Lorenzen, looking to build on his previous two solid seven-inning starts, took the hill for the Michiganders. While he hasn’t struck too many out, he’s definitely been pounding the strike zone more: in his previous 7-inning, 1-run start against Cleveland, he threw 77 of 98 pitches for strikes, not walking anyone. Mind you, he only racked up three strikeouts, but the contact was soft and he got his usual mix of fly- and ground-balls.

Luis Ortiz — that is, Luis L. Ortiz, as there’s a Luis F. Ortiz that pitches for the Phillies — made his second major-league start for the Pirates this year. He made four major-league starts last year as a rookie... well, technically he’s still a rookie, but you know what I mean. He was signed as a minor-league free agent in 2018 as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, spent most of last year at Double-A, and was looking good at Triple-A this year before his call-up. He has a heck of a fastball, but he just can’t seem to control it too well, as was shown tonight.

Riley Greene hit a one-out double in the first, and he scored on a perfectly-placed Javier Báez single to right field. Spencer Torkelson joined the first-inning scoring party with a double to left-centre, scoring Báez and making it 2-0.

Nick “Wolfie” Maton and Akil “Mr. Excitement” Baddoo followed with walks to load the bases, but Miguel Cabrera struck out; Andy Ibáñez hit one to the deepest part of centerfield, but unfortunately it only made it as far as the warning track.

Torkelson doubled again to lead off the third, and took third on an infield single by Baddoo. An errant pickoff throw to first scored Torkelson and Baddoo scampered all the way to third, and after a Cabrera walk a wild pitch scored Baddoo, making it 4-0.

Lorenzen was looking good early on, although he briefly lost his command in the second inning. He struck out four in the first three innings, and he featured a nasty changeup which worked well off his fastball. Also, I’m not sure if the TV broadcast’s microphones pick this up, but the radio field-mikes let you hear Lorenzen yell on every single pitch. It sounds like he’s getting punched in the gut. I mean, if it works for him, hey, good on ya, bud. You can see it in the picture at the top; he’s in mid-yell right there, I think.

Zach McKinstry walked to lead off the fourth, and Greene singled to left; McKinstry scampered all the way to third and only a nifty slide, as he held on to the third-base bag with his left toe, kept him safe. That was the end of Ortiz’s day, but Yohan Ramirez managed to end the threat with a Báez strikeout and an around-the-horn Torkelson double-play grounder.

In the sixth, Lorenzen gave up a two-out single to Ke’Bryan Hayes but got Tucupita Marcano (now that’s a great name) to fly out harmlessly to left and that ended his evening. His final line: 6 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, and 64 of his 99 pitches were strikes. I’ll take that any day of the week.

A pair of singles with one out in the sixth put runners on first and second for Greene, who hit Duane Underwood Jr.’s second pitch on a line to right field, and Josh Palacios made a fine play to grab the liner. His throw to second base arrived before Eric Haase could get back to the bag, and that’s another inning-ending double play.

Will Vest, who was a little wild the last time out but who’s been generally very solid, came on for the seventh and he looked great, getting a pair of strikeouts, the second on a filthy down-and-away slider. He carried right on through the eighth, getting another whiff, to make for two perfect innings.

José Cisnero was brought in for the ninth inning, and he made the Pittsburghers go 1-2-3 to seal the win in a non-save situation.

The second and final game of the short series starts at 1:10 pm EDT on Wednesday.

Yet Another Milestone

That’s a heck of a list he’s joining there.

I Guess His Command Wasn’t Quite There

“If I was going to catch Luis Ortiz tonight, I’d be getting a P90X workout behind the plate back there.”

— Andy Dirks, commenting on how the Pittsburgh starting pitcher perhaps didn’t quite have pin-point control

Notes and Numbers

  • Earlier today, the Tigers announced they’d signed a right-handed pitcher off waivers from the Yankees, Seth Elledge. He spent parts of 2020 and 2021 in the bullpen with the Cardinals, and while he struck out about a batter per inning, his walks were way, way too high. The Tigers assigned him to Toledo, so we’ll see what happens.
  • It’s a small sample size, but from May 6 through 14, Spencer Torkelson had 33 plate appearances and his slash line was .323/.364/.484 for an .848 OPS. In that time he had a home run and a pair of doubles, and of course had a pair of doubles tonight to add to his recent good results.
  • The radio stream often has ads for an online jewelry place called Blue Nile. Every time I hear it, I think about the Blue Oyster, which apparently has a really good salad bar.
  • Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers was born on this day in 1827. He designed the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which contains a whole lot of work by Rembrandt. I went there many years ago, and while I don’t know a heck of a lot about fine art, I became a big fan of Rembrandt that day. (I will not elaborate on what else I may or may not have done while in Amsterdam.)

Anibal Sanchez retires

We have very fond memories of Anibal Sanchez circa 2012-2014, when he combined with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer to form one of the greatest triumvirates of all-time. Yeah, I said it Octavian. We wish Sanchie all the best in retirement.