Detroit 4, Pirates 3 (box)
For the second straight day, the Tigers required some late inning heroics to put away a bad Pittsburgh Pirates club. Today, Miguel Cabrera provided the power with two runners on in the eighth to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead.
The pitching was solid, as it has been all series (just eight runs allowed in three games), but the Tigers could muster only five hits, and only one run, through the game’s first seven innings. Armando Galarraga didn’t strike anyone out, but he allowed only six hits and one walk in seven-and-two-thirds innings. He didn’t give away free bases, and he allowed his defense to work behind him. Armando is at his best when he doesn’t fear batters making contact, and that’s what we saw today. Brad Thomas pitched the final out of the eighth inning to pick up the win.
Jose Valverde picked up the save (his 13th), but saw his ERA balloon to 0.67 after a sacrifice fly scored a run in the ninth. It was the first run he’s allowed since April 7, a streak that spanned 25 appearances. I think he’s still looking good for the All-Star Game.
Alex Avila homered to deep center for his first extra base hit since his two homer game against Minnesota back on May 5. Alex is hitting .368 with an OPS north of .820 in June. His improved bat is a very nice presence in the bottom of the order.
It’s a little bit concerning to see the Tigers offense struggle the last two games against a weak Pittsburgh Pirates team, but a series sweep was the goal. The Twins didn’t stake a strong claim to the division when the Tigers struggled in the last road trip, so the race for the Central continues to be close.