At first glance, seeing a rookie with limited minor league experience on the mound for the Detroit Tigers, one might have brushed this one aside as yet another loss, which would have been the club’s fifth straight. Instead, that rookie, Buck Farmer, held his own and the Tigers’ bats awoke to claim a come-from-behind victory, 8-4, before a sellout crowd at Comerica Park.
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A couple of the leaders of the Tigers spoke up prior to this game. Torii Hunter said that the team needs to dig deep to find energy to win games and that “we’re going to have to fight.” Justin Verlander addressed the fans and media freaking out over the second-place team by stating “I don’t think anybody will stop panicking until we win the World Series.”
In appeared early on, these statements would ring hollow.
As they often have during their recent road doldrums, the Tigers grabbed the early lead. Nick Castellanos hit a triple which chased home Victor Martinez for a 1-0 lead. Farmer, who pitched well all night long considering just two weeks ago he was pitching in Single-A, allowed the Pirates to tie it and two innings later, he allowed a Travis Snider three-run knock to push the score to 4-1.
Four runs with a rookie pitcher on the mound and with the bullpen looming–well it did not spell success for the Tigers’ anemic offense, which hit sub .230 on the recent 2-7 road trip.
It all changed in the bottom of the fifth when Alex Avila hit his second homer in as many nights. Miguel Cabrera came within a whisker of pulling the Tigers in front with a long homer but the deep out brought home Ezequiel Carrera. V-Mart brought him home to tie it at 4.
Detroit grabbed the lead in the sixth inning when Nick Castellanos hit a solo shot. Then they poured it on (haven’t heard that much recently) with three runs in the seventh inning. The cold Tigers’ bats got warm, notching a dozen hits.
Farmer showed a lot of poise in his first major league start, going five innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out four batters. After Blaine Hardy held down Pittsburgh for two innings, Joba Chamberlain came in for the eighth inning and worked around a one-out walk for no damage.
Joe Nathan came into the ninth inning in a non-save situation and immediately drew the ire of the crowd by walking the first two batters he faced. The maligned closer threw 17 pitches before recording the first out. A nifty double-play ball, where Castellanos stepped on third and threw to first base ended the game and preserved the win.