The Pittsburgh Pirates exploded for 21 hits last night and A.J. Burnett turned in yet another solid start as they defeated the Detroit Tigers 9-3. The win puts Burnett’s record at 7-3 and the Pirates at 44-33 on the season as they go for the sweep Thursday afternoon.
The Tigers scored first in the second inning when Nick Castellanos singled and scored Yoenis Cespedes. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Pirates came back in a big way during the third inning.
Josh Harrison started the inning by doubling off of Alfredo Simon. Neil Walker then hit his fifth home run of the year and gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. They continued to add on during the frame, when Francisco Cervelli grounded out and scored Andrew McCutchen, who had singled earlier. Gregory Polanco followed that up with a single that knocked in Pedro Alvarez, who collected his 14th double of the season. Polanco advanced to second on a wild pitch by Simon and eventually scored on a throwing error by Jose Iglesias after Jordy Mercer‘s infield single.
Al Alburquerque was brought in during the sixth inning after Simon let Walker reach on an infield single and steal second. He also gave up an infield single to Starling Marte, which moved Walker to third. Walker came in to score the sixth run of the game for the Pirates on a wild pitch by Alburquerque.
Detroit got a run back in the bottom half of the inning when Cespedes grounded out and Victor Martinez scored. The Pirates got that run back and more in the eighth inning when Joba Chamberlain served up home runs to Walker (his second of the game), Marte, and Alvarez. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Pirates had a comfortable 9-2 lead.
Jared Hughes relieved Burnett and did not give up a run. He did hit Martinez with a pitch (his second in two days), and while it is not my place to guess whether or not this was intentional, perhaps Martinez learned that he should not speak so candidly to the media. If he indeed thought the Pirates were retaliating last night when Marte got hit, his frank comments about the entire Pittsburgh organization surely did not go unnoticed.
Arquimedes Caminero was tasked with pitching the ninth inning and did so but gave up a home run to James McCann. This was all that the Tigers could mount in terms of a comeback and the Pirates took the second game of the series by a final score of 9-3.
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What Stood Out
While Burnett turned in another quality start, it was the offense that really stood out last night. Racking up an incredible 21 hits that resulted in nine runs, this game showed what the offense is capable of when they are all clicking. It was especially encouraging to see everyone in the lineup contribute; every starter had at least one hit and either had at least one RBI or scored one run.
The home run barrage in the eighth inning was also a nice surprise, particularly Walker adding his second home run of the evening. In a season where he is lagging behind his home run pace of 2014, these two home runs hopefully will be the catalyst to get him to start hitting for more power.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will go for the sweep this afternoon when Francisco Liriano and Kyle Ryan face off at 1:05 PM. Liriano will look to win his second consecutive start while the offense will try to keep the runs coming against Ryan. Ryan has given up 13 runs in just 23.2 innings of work this year, and has coughed up eight walks to only 11 strikeouts. The Pittsburgh hitters are in prime position to keep the hits and the runs coming.