PITTSBURGH -- With a doubleheader slated Wednesday, the Tigers were hoping to get some length out of Jordan Zimmermann in the opening game. But although the Pirates chased Detroit's workhorse starter after three innings, an outstanding offensive output, led by Jeimer Candelario, was enough to bail out a taxed pitching
PITTSBURGH -- With a doubleheader slated Wednesday, the Tigers were hoping to get some length out of Jordan Zimmermann in the opening game. But although the Pirates chased Detroit's workhorse starter after three innings, an outstanding offensive output, led by Jeimer Candelario, was enough to bail out a taxed pitching staff.
The Tigers powered their way to a 13-10 win at PNC Park -- their first victory over the Pirates in four matchups this season -- thanks to a season-high 20 hits and season-high-tying four home runs.
"It was not one of those easy games," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had to finagle our way through and use a lot of people, but we kept swinging the bats, and so did they. Both teams got after it pretty good, and fortunately for us, we finally shut them down at the end. The ball was flying all over the place. I know that."
Leonys Martin got the game off to a quick start with a leadoff home run to center field just two pitches after fouling a ball into his groin. James McCann added a leadoff homer in the fourth inning, and Nicholas Castellanos welcomed reliever Kyle Crick to the game with a home run on the first pitch of the reliever's outing to cap off the five-run frame.
Rookie third baseman Candelario was perhaps the biggest contributor, as he came around to score five times in a busy offensive day. He doubled down the line in the first, singled through the right side in the third, homered in the sixth and even reached on a fielder's choice and error. His home run left his bat at 103.1 mph -- one of 13 batted balls the Tigers hit harder than 100 mph.
The Tigers began the season slowly at 4-9, scoring only 3.8 runs per game, but have turned things around since their series against the Orioles last week. Detroit has won six of its last eight games while scoring 7.3 runs per game.
"Our guys were all swinging all the way up and down the lineup," Gardenhire said. "We put some nice swings out there, and they did too. Like I said, both teams did. Our guys felt pretty good when we got out and actually took batting practice on the field today. I think that was a start, and they saw how the ball was jumping around out there, and I think they liked that part of it. They carried it right into the game."
Detroit fell into an early hole when Zimmermann was knocked around for six runs (three earned) across his three frames, and Gardenhire opted to pinch hit for Zimmermann in the top of the fourth. But the Tigers' bullpen was able to hold the Pirates to four runs over the final six frames, surviving a scare in the eighth when Joe Jimenez gave up three runs.
Using six relievers in the first half of a doubleheader was certainly not the plan for Gardenhire, but the Tigers have plenty of length left in their bullpen with Daniel Norris unused and 26th man Artie Lewicki available in the second game. Still, the Tigers would certainly appreciate the second game's starter Matthew Boyd to pitch at least six innings for the fourth straight start this season.
"Obviously I needed to go six or seven tonight," Zimmermann said. "We have three games in 24 hours or whatever it is. It puts us in a hole, the outing I had tonight, so we need Boyd to go deep in the second game here."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Martin flashed his leather with an outstanding five-star grab in the sixth inning to rob Starling Marte of a hit. Martin had to cover 39 feet in 3.0 seconds for a 11 percent catch probability. That was the first catch for Martin in seven five-star opportunities -- 0-25 percent catch probability -- but the center fielder was 10-for-10 coming into Wednesday's game on balls with a greater than 50 percent catch probability.
HE SAID IT
"You don't want to know about that conversation. That was not a very fun conversation for me or anybody else out there. I didn't think his voice could get any higher, but it did. He wasn't feeling very good, but he wasn't coming out of the game, too. He expressed that to me right from the start. 'Don't take me out. Don't even think about it. Just let me gather myself.' That's what he did. And then he yelled at me again in the clubhouse after the game, 'Don't take me out of the second game either. I'm playing.'" -- Gardenhire on talking to Martin in the first inning
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Detroit was a little too casual trying to turn a double play in the third inning, and it came back to bite them in a big way. With a runner on first and one out, Josh Bell grounded a ball to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who made a clean turn to second baseman Niko Goodrum. However, Goodrum didn't maintain contact with the bag, and the Pirates successfully got the safe call overturned. Two batters later, Francisco Cervelli launched a three-run, two-out home run to capitalize on the mistake.
Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.