PITTSBURGH -- Short starts are possible to overcome with a strong offense. The Tigers proved as much in the first half of Wednesday's doubleheader by matching their season high in runs.But with several key hitters out of the lineup and a shorthanded bullpen, they couldn't overcome Matthew Boyd's early exit
PITTSBURGH -- Short starts are possible to overcome with a strong offense. The Tigers proved as much in the first half of Wednesday's doubleheader by matching their season high in runs.
But with several key hitters out of the lineup and a shorthanded bullpen, they couldn't overcome Matthew Boyd's early exit in the second game, as they dropped an 8-3 decision to the Pirates in Game 2 to split the twin bill at PNC Park.
Boyd had been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball after giving up just one run in each of his first three starts, but Wednesday was a different story. He served up a three-run homer to Jose Osuna in the second inning and got himself into trouble two innings later by giving up a single to opposing starter Chad Kuhl and eventually walking him in three batters later.
"Without getting into specifics, I was just a little bit out of sync," said Boyd, who had been battling a cold. "That's what it comes down to. They did a good job putting the ball in play. There was the home run, but a lot of the other ones, they did a good job.
"There's no excuse for what happened. There's always something to deal with. You just go out there and attack ... It's unfortunate that I put my team in that hole early."
While his four runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings may not have felt insurmountable considering the Tigers scored 13 runs on 20 hits in a 13-10 win in Game 1, the offense couldn't capitalize in the nightcap. Missing veteran sluggers Victor Martinez -- with no designated hitter in a National League park -- and Jose Cabrera -- because he needed a time off with three games scheduled in 24 hours -- from the starting lineup certainly didn't help.
The Tigers got a rally going in the fourth inning when Jeimer Candelario hit a leadoff triple, Nicholas Castellanos singled him home, and Niko Goodrum doubled to center field. But that inning was quickly snuffed out when JaCoby Jones barreled a ball at 98.2 mph right at second baseman Max Moroff, who caught it and doubled up Goodrum. A soft flyout later, and the Tigers had no runs to show for having two runners in scoring position with none out.
"It really is baseball. You're hitting balls hard, and we just missed hooking a couple, but they hit some balls hard, too, that we made balls on, too. That's just the way the game is," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Is it frustrating, yeah? When you hit a ball hard, and they catch it. Especially if you're the hitter. But on the other side, you've got to look at it from their side, too, and they made some plays when they had to."
Leonys Martin added a two-run home run in the fifth inning -- his second of the day -- but the Tigers didn't get another runner in scoring position after the fourth-inning double play until John Hicks' two-out, ninth-inning double.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Tigers came within mere feet of getting back on the board in the seventh inning with a pair of balls that nearly went out of the park. After Dixon Machado took a one-out walk, Jose Iglesias crushed a deep drive that hooked foul of the left-field pole. Later in the at-bat, he hit a rocket to deep left field -- 100 mph with a 71 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™ -- but Sean Rodriguez came down with it before crashing into the wall.
Martinez came in to pinch-hit and crushed another ball that sliced just foul in front of the right-field pole. His at-bat ended fruitlessly with a foul popout.
"We had chances and got behind a little bit, but we were getting after them pretty in good," Gardenhire said. "We hit some balls, and Victor came up, and he just hooked one foul. Iglesias hooked one just foul the other way. We had a couple of shots at it, and the guys weren't quitting or anything, but finally we just kind of ran out of bullets there."
Before Wednesday, the last time Detroit played in a doubleheader in Pittsburgh was on Sept. 25, 1888. That day, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys split a pair of games with the Detroit Wolverines at Recreation Park.
Wednesday's doubleheader was the Tigers' third twin bill of the month -- they were swept by the Pirates on April 1 and split a doubleheader against the Royals last Friday. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Tigers are the first team to play three doubleheaders in April since the White Sox and Orioles did so in 1982.
The Tigers wrap up their season series against the Pirates on Thursday at 12:35 p.m. ET as Michael Fulmer takes the hill. The 25-year-old, who will oppose righty Ivan Nova, held the Bucs to one run over eight innings in his first start of the season, but he was saddled with a tough-luck loss.
Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.