Pittsburgh Pirates complete sweep of Tigers with 8-4 victory
The Pittsburgh Pirates completed the three-game series sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Thursday with an 8-4 victory. Francisco Liriano kept the Tigers off the board during his seven innings of work and Neil Walker collected four hits and three RBIs in the win that moved the Pirates to 45-33 heading into the July Fourth weekend.
Liriano and Kyle Ryan exchanged scoreless innings until the fourth inning when Francisco Cervelli launched his fourth home run of the season to left field to put the Pirates ahead 1-0. After walking the first two hitters of the fifth inning, Ryan was replaced by Al Alburquerque. He allowed an Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly to right field that scored Sean Rodriguez, giving the Pirates a second run in as many innings.
Alburquerque was relieved by Blaine Hardy after giving up singles to the first two hitters in the sixth. Neil Walker took advantage of the runners on base and singled to right, bringing in Jung Ho Kang. The Pirates got a second run off of Hardy in the seventh on a Starling Marte single that scored Jordy Mercer.
With a pitch count over 100, Clint Hurdle elected to have Antonio Bastardo take over for Liriano in the eighth. Things did not go according to script and he allowed the first two batters to reach base. They would both score on J.D. Martinez‘s 21st home run of the season, closing to gap to 4-3. The Pirates headed into the ninth inning with just a one-run lead after keeping Detroit from scoring for seven innings.
The offense, as it had all series, came alive in the ninth inning and turned a would-be one-run save opportunity into a non-save situation in a hurry. Bruce Rondon was brought in for the ninth and gave up a single to Mercer, who stole second and then scored on a double by McCutchen. Marte added another single and moved McCutchen to third. He also swiped his 16th stolen base of the season. Cervelli was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases for Walker. Walker brought two more runs in with a double that gave the Pirates a four-run lead.
Brad Ausmus had seen enough of Rondon and removed him in favor of former Pirate Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny gave up another run when Sean Rodriguez grounded out to second and Cervelli scored on the play. The Pirates headed into the final half-inning of the game with a comfortable 8-3 lead.
Vance Worley came in for the ninth inning and got two outs but in the process gave up a double to Jose Iglesias. Ian Kinsler hit a ground rule double that would then score Iglesias. Just to be safe, Clint Hurdle substituted Mark Melancon in to get the last out and he did just that, getting Victor Martinez to ground out to end a very successful trip in Detroit.
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The entire series in Detroit was satisfying in almost all aspects (save for the Gorkys Hernandez base running blunder). In the 32 innings the teams played, the Pirates collected 22 runs on 49 hits. They never let up and outside of the first game of the series, looked to be entirely in control. The starting pitchers all recorded quality starts and the only real blemish was the runs that the bullpen gave up. But fortunately for the last two games, the offense ended up providing more than enough runs to secure the victories.
The loss puts Detroit at 39-39, but the Tigers still have a lot of big hitters that the Pirates for the most part kept quiet. It was impressive to see the Pirates take all three games against a team that can still be considered one of the stronger teams in the American League. Hopefully the Pirates continue the offensive output heading into the all-star break.
The Pittsburgh Pirates return home to open a three-game series over the Fourth of July weekend against the Cleveland Indians at 7:05 PM on Friday night. Charlie Morton, who is coming off of two sub-par outings (the one in Washington can be filed under “disaster”), will face off against Trevor Bauer. Bauer appears to be either lights out or awful, so the Pittsburgh offense has a good chance to keep up the scoring.
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