After scoring eight runs on Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Detroit Tigers’ bats went dormant on Tuesday as they fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2. The Pirates, led by prospect Gregory Polanco, came into Joker Marchant Stadium and ended the Tigers three-game unbeaten streak behind a three-run third inning off Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
The Tigers chipped away at the three-run deficit when Austin Jackson homered in the fourth inning. Jackson’s two-run home run would be the only run support provided for the pitching staff. The Pirates would tack on two more insurance runs in the final two innings to lead them to victory.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers rallied to load the bases, but Devon Travis grounded out on the first pitch to end the game.
Porcello (0-1, 7.20 ERA) took the mound on Tuesday for the Tigers and was solid through his first two innings until imploding in the third, giving up three earned runs. The Pirates were able to lay down a bunt single, an RBI double and an RBI groundout to generate the three-run third inning.
The bullpen performed well after Porcello exited the game, giving up one earned run over the final six innings. Ian Krol, Joe Nathan, Jhan Marinez and Joba Chamberlain all pitched scoreless innings for the Tigers.
- Krol pitched a scoreless fourth inning that included two strikeouts after Porcello gave up three earned runs in the third. Krol was a secondary piece acquired in the Doug Fister trade and has pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen so far this spring.
- The Tigers had a chance to tie the game in the fifth inning when Hernan Perez was in scoring position on second base. Rajai Davis ripped a single to right field, but Pirates outfielder Jaff Decker gunned down Perez at home for the final out of the inning.
- Torii Hunter was the designated hitter for the Tigers and finished the day 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Hunter has struggled so far in Grapefruit League play, hitting just .154 through 13 at-bats.
- Polanco showed flashes of his potential during three at-bats against the Tigers, proving his No.10 overall rating among prospects in 2014, according to Baseball America. Polanco went 2-for-3 with an RBI double while playing a steady centerfield for the Pirates. Polanco played mostly between High-A and Double-A ball in 2013, but did play two games at the Triple-A level as well. He is currently blocked at centerfield by 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, but the Pirates will find a way to add Polanco’s bat to the lineup whenever the organization deems he’s ready.
- Bruce Rondon displayed his power out of the bullpen as he struck out the side in the top of the ninth. Despite the strikeouts, Rondon did give up two hits and one earned run
- Overall, the pitching for the Tigers was solid. The staff totaled nine strikeouts and zero walks against the Pirates.
Box Score Highlights
- A. Jackson: 1-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB
- D. Kelly: 2-for-3, 2B
- R. Cabrera: 1-for-1, BB
- R. Porcello: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 K
- B. Rondon: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 K
- I. Krol: 1 IP, 2 K
- Travis and Jordan Lennerton entered the game on back-to-back days, but both were unable to record a hit in each of their at-bats.
- Daniel Fields took over in center field for Jackson and struck out in his only at-bat of the game
The Tigers will travel to Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla. on Wednesday to take on the Houston Astros as they continue Grapefruit League play. The reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer will take the mound for his second start this spring. First pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. local time