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Detroit Tigers: Bullpen costs Tigers chance at sweep in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 19: JaCoby Jones #21 of the Detroit Tigers takes the field against the Pittsburgh Pirates during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 19, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 19: JaCoby Jones #21 of the Detroit Tigers takes the field against the Pittsburgh Pirates during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 19, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers looked to be in the driver’s seat cruising to a two-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, but the Pirates were able to storm back thanks to Detroit’s bullpen.

The Detroit Tigers have not swept a series since early April, but that looked as if it might change on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. The Tigers were up by six runs at one point in the third inning, but the Pirates managed to climb their way back to an 8-7 win, splitting the quick two-game series at one game apiece.

Detroit’s starter Jordan Zimmermann didn’t have an amazing night in his first start back from the IL, but it wasn’t his worst. The righty surrendered three runs on five hits in four innings, but considering Wednesday was his first big league start since late April, he was pulled after just four innings.

It was then when the Tigers’ bullpen took over the game that things started looking ugly. Rookie reliever Nick Ramirez entered the game after Zimmermann and the floodgates opened for Pittsburgh.

Ramirez surrendered five runs on six hits in just 1.1 IP. The runs came in the form of a two-run blast from Starling Marte to cut Detroit’s lead to just two followed by a three-run shot in the sixth inning from rookie Bryan Reynolds to give the Pirates a one-run lead that would ultimately win them the game.

Fellow relievers Victor Alcántara and Blaine Hardy stepped in after Ramirez was pulled and were able to stop the bleeding with neither pitcher even allowing a hit over their combined 2.2 innings.

Detroit’s offense, which showed rare explosiveness early on, was not able to come back over the final three innings. Despite an offensive showcase in the third inning where the team scored five runs, including homers from Brandon Dixon and Harold Castro, the offensive firepower had dried up by the time the Tigers needed it the most.

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The Detroit Tigers got a much-needed win on Tuesday but were unable to replicate that magic in the series finale on Wednesday night. A poor bullpen performance allowed the Pirates to take back the game and the Tigers’ offensive explosiveness was gone when it was most needed, which is a formula that is starting to sound too familiar.

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