Detroit Tigers: Fall to Pirates in extras, 5-4
By Matt Pelc
Baseball is a cruel game. One day, you’re the hero, but the next you’re the goat.
Victor Martinez was one of Sunday’s heroes in the come-from-behind victory over the White Sox, hitting a double in the bottom of the eighth. He could have been again in the 14th on Tuesday, but instead grounded into a game-ending double play.
The Pittsburgh Pirates held on to win, 5-4, in a gamethat just didn’t seem to want to end. Second baseman Neil Walker drove in pinch hitter Josh Harrison for the game-winning run in the top of the 14th.
The Detroit Tigers never led in the game and tied it in the eighth on a J.D. Martinez two-run shot.
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Justin Verlander was wild early, but settled in during the middle innings, but his unsteady start dug his teammates into a big hole against one of the National League’s top pitchers Gerritt Cole.
Through the first four innings, Verlander allowed at least two men on base, but somehow escaped allowing runs in the first, when the bases were loaded, and in the fourth. Walks were an issue for J.V. He issued five free passes on the night, four of them in the first three innings.
The Pirates small-balled their way to a 3-0 lead with runs in the second and third. They picked up one in the second on a sacrifice fly by Gregory Polanco and scored a pair on an Ian Kinsler error and another sac fly, this time by Jordy Mercer.
Verlander pitched his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth inning and quietly put together a quality start after his early wildness. He walked the first batter he faced in the seventh and was done for the evening, going six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, striking out three batters.
Not the best outing, but better than we expected through the first four innings.
James McCann nearly tied it in the bottom of the fifth inning when his towering fall ball hit off the very top of the Comerica Park wall between center field and right field. McCann checked in at second base with an RBI double, but manager Brad Ausmus challenged it saying a fan interfered with the ball. Replays seemed to show that the bull hit the fan’s glove above the yellow line and came back into the field of play, but MLB, ever afraid of overturning calls unless it is clear as day took over four minutes to uphold the call.
The Tigers failed to capitalize on the two men on and none out and went down quietly with weak at bats from Jose Iglesias, Anthony Gose and Ian Kinsler.
The Tigers poised multiple threats against Cole, but most fizzled away. A Kinsler seventh inning double plated McCann with the second run of the game to pull Detroit within a run at 3-2, ending the Pirates’ starter’s night, but Joba Chamberlain, on in relief, gave that run back until J.D. Martinez hit hit 20th homer of the season to tie the score at four with a two-run blast in the eighth inning.
There was a tiny bit of drama in the middle innings when Victor Martinez was hit with a Cole pitch in the bottom of the fourth and then Verlander responded by hitting Pedro Alvarez the next half inning, prompting warnings for both benches from the umpires.
The series resumes from Comerica Park Wednesday night with Alfredo Simon looking to bounce back after two tough outings against a rejuvenated A.J. Burnett.