Beaten by the Cy Young and MVP winner

Kevin Correia against Justin Verlander – what could possibly go wrong.   Today’s game was expected to be pretty ugly, but it surprisingly wasn’t.  Even though the score was 2-0 Tigers on Quintin Berry‘s first career home run before Correia could even record an out, it was a close game to the very end.

Alex Presley ended any chance of a no-hitter when he led off with a bunt-single.  Apparently Clint Hurdle’s strategy was to keep bunting, because Josh Harrison followed with a bunt, but lined it right to third.  In the fourth, Casey McGehee struck out after the home plate umpire said he swung on a check-swing.  McGehee put up a fight, but Hurdle came out to argue for him.  After a calm exchange of words, Hurdle was tossed.  It was really strange that he got thrown out even though it was a pretty quiet conversation, and even the umpire threw him out nonchalantly.  Jeff Bannister took over as manager from there.

Verlander gave up just two hits, both infield-singles, through six innings.  In the seventh, the Bucs finally got to him.  Pedro Alvarez roped a single to center for the first legitimate hit of the game.  Garrett Jones followed it with a two-run bomb to right-center, tying the game.  Verlander was beyond mad.

Alas, the tie didn’t last long.  Chris Resop replaced Correia after 6 innings of 6-hit ball.  He gave up a one-out walk to Berry, who swiped second.  With two outs, Resop intentionally walked Prince Fielder.  The next batter, Delmon Young, took a letter-high fast ball to RF, easily scoring Berry.

Josh Harrison flew out to end the eighth, missing a game-tying home run by a few inches.  Cutch, McGehee, and Pedro went down in order in the ninth, although Cutch flew out to deep right.  Verlander vamped it up to 98 MPH in the last inning, going the distance for the fourth time this year.

It’s hard to be upset about this one, considering Verlander is the best pitcher in the game.  But at the same time, Resop blew it and it was a pretty winnable game after Jones tied it.  Either way, a 4-2 homestand isn’t bad at all.  After the game, it was announced that Brad Lincoln would be moved back to the bullpen, and Jeff Karstens would start tomorrow in Philadelphia.  Everyone else’s start would be pushed back a day.  The Bucs go to Philly for four games, and St. Louis for three.  No Halladay, Lee, or Hamels for the Phillies.  Cincy lost too, so no change in to top of the NL Central.

Pirates (38-33) – Tigers (35-37)

Win: Verlander (8-4)
Loss: Resop (0-3)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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Bucs take the series

Brad Lincoln surprised everyone today with a great start against the Tigers.  He threw 5 no-hit innings, until finally giving up a leadoff single to Ramon Santiago in the sixth.  Andrew McCutchen got Lincoln the lead with a three-run bomb off Max Scherzer in the fourth on an 0-2 slider.

After Santiago’s single in the sixth, he was sacrificed over to second.  Lincoln struck out Austin Jackson and got a flyout to escape the jam and keep the 3-0 lead.  Miguel Cabrera led off the seventh and worked the count full after seven pitches.  On the eighth, he muscled a fastball to right-center for a solo home run, which ended Lincoln’s day on the mound.  He went 6 innings, giving up only 2 hits, and walked off the field to a great ovation.

Juan Cruz came out in relief, and gave up a double to Prince Fielder.  Delmon Young grounded out, and Tony Watson came in to face Alex Avila.  He got a groundout and a flyout to strand Fielder on third, and keep the two-run lead.

Casey McGehee led off the seventh with a double, and Neil Walker drove him in on an RBI-single.  Pedro Alvarez singled to put runners on the corners, and former Pirates great Octavio Dotel came in to pitch.  After a popout, Josh Harrison squared around, and Walker broke for the plate.  Dotel threw a 2-1 slider, which must have caught Harrison off-guard because he pulled back, and Walker was tagged out.  It was understandable that the Bucs would want to steal another run with a suicide squeeze, but the Tigers snuffed it out.  Not much you can do about it.  Harrison went on to strike out, leaving Pedro at second base.

Jason Grilli pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and there was a chance to add on the to lead in the bottom half.  Back-to-back leadoff singles were followed up with a sac-bunt, but the Tigers were smart enough to intentionally walk McCutchen to load the bases.  McGehee and Walked couldn’t cash in, so Joel Hanrahan came out for the ninth with a 4-1 lead.  He got two easy outs, but gave up a single and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate.  Hammer threw three straight sliders to Avila, who chased the last one in the dirt to end the game, and get the Bucs the series win.

The Bucs will go for the sweep tomorrow, but will have to face Justin Verlander, who almost no-hit the Bucs back in May.  Kevin Correia square off against him.

Pirates (38-32) – Tigers (34-37)

Win: Lincoln (4-2)
Loss: Scherzer (6-5)
Save: Hanrahan (19)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Burnett tames Tigers

What A.J. Burnett has done for this Pirates team can’t even be put into words.  He continued his dominance against the Tigers tonight, throwing 6 innings of 2-hit shutout baseball.  The offense wasn’t all that great, but it was enough to get a 4-1 win.

Alex Presley led off with a double for the Pirates, and Neil Walker drove him in for the only Pirates RBI of the game.  Walker got to third on a wild pitch and Andrew McCutchen‘s single, and scored when Garrett Jones grounded in to a double play.  Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas led off the second with back-to-back singles, and after a strikeout, Burnett laid down a bunt.  Tigers’ pitcher Doug Fister fielded it and air-mailed a throw over third base, allowing Pedro to score from second, and Barajas to chug all the way around from first.

That would be all the scoring for the Bucs on the night, but that’s all A.J. would need.  He mowed through the third, fourth, and fifth innings, until running into some trouble in the sixth.  Austin Jackson singled and Burnett walked Quintin Berry, although he looked like he was getting squeezed on a few pitches.  Regardless, the Tigers had runners on first and second with no outs, and two of the best hitters in the game coming up.  Miguel Cabrera worked the count full, but on the eighth pitch, A.J. got him to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.  Two big outs, but he still had to face Prince Fielder, who was boo’d every time he came to the plate.  Burnett threw three straight fastballs, and got Prince to pop out to end the inning.  It’s incredible that he was able to work out of that jam, but being the veteran he is, A.J. sucked it up and kept Detroit off the board.  He was done after the sixth inning and 98 pitches, with Jared Hughes replacing him in the seventh.

Hughes gave up back-to-back doubles, which made it 4-1, but worked his away out of the inning with minimum damage.  Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan were absolutely filthy in the eighth and ninth innings.  No one could even make solid contact off them, and both pitched 1-2-3 innings to close out the game.

Cincinnati lost tonight, so the Pirates are now just one game back of first place.  Tomorrow’s game is at 4:05, and Brad Lincoln will hopefully be making his last start of the year.

-Burnett is now 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA at PNC Park this year.
-Cabrera and Fielder went a combined 0-for-8 tonight.
-Cutch is now hitting .346 after his 3 hits tonight.

Pirates (37-32) – Tigers (34-36)

Win: Burnett (8-2)
Loss: Fister (1-4)
Save: Hanrahan (18)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Pirates let series win get away

Getaway day in Detroit didn’t go the way the Bucs had hoped.  With Kevin Correia on the mound, facing Max Scherzer, the Pirates looked to win the series going into a long 9 game homestand.  Scherzer was absolutely dominant for the first four innings, striking out 9 of the first 14 batters he faced.  Correia matched him, with four scoreless innings of his own.  Rod Barajas got the Bucs on the board in the fifth, with a solo shot to left field, extending his hit streak to 7 games.  Jhonny Peralta tied the game in the bottom half with a solo home run of his own.

After lining a few pitches foul in the sixth, Neil Walker crushed a slider for another solo home run, putting the Pirates back up by a run.  Correia was still working strong through six, but the swheels started to fall off in the seventh.  After giving up a leadoff double to Prince Fielder, Correia gave up an RBI single to Delmon Young.  That was the end of his day on the mound, and Tony Watson came out in relief.  Watson got the first out, and walked Peralta.  After a passed ball by Rod Barajas allowed both runners to move up, the Pirates drew the infield in.  Alex Avila hit a ground ball up the middle, just out of Clint Barmes’ reach, scoring two and making it 4-2 Tigers.  If Barajas hadn’t given up the passed ball, it would have easily been an inning-ending double play ball, keeping the score tied.

Former Pirates closer Octavio Dotel pitched the eighth, and the Bucs got something going off him.  Barmes lead off with a single, and Jose Tabata flew out to deep center, just missing tying the game.  Neil Walker flew out, but then Andrew McCutchen reached on an E-1.  Phil Coke came out to face Pedro Alvarez, and got him to strike out swinging, leaving two on base.

Josh Harrison doubled in the ninth and got to third on a wild pitch.  It was a pretty risky move by Harrison to move up on the wild pitch, especially because his run meant nothing and Avila kept the ball close.  But, Harrison beat the throw to third, and Barajas drove him in with a sacrifice fly.  Who came up as the tying run with two down in the ninth?  You guessed it, Nate McLouth.  McLouth looked at a 1-1 pitch right down the middle, and proceeded to strike out looking to end the game.

Pirates (19-22) – Tigers (20-21)

Win: Scherzer (3-3)
Loss: Correia (1-5)
Save: Benoit (1)

BOX SCORE

Bucs come home for a long homestand vs. the Mets, Cubs, and Reds. The seven runs scored this weekend equate to $7 off for the “You Score as the Pirates Score” promotion. The discounted tickets can be purchased HERE.

Justin Verlander one-hits Pirates

Well, we all knew going into Friday that it could be an ugly game.  And it was.  Justin Verlander took the hill for Detroit and was in complete control the whole game.  Charlie Morton would have to be near perfect to beat Verlander, but he got hit pretty hard.  He gave up back to back RBI doubles in the first to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to make it 2-0 Tigers.  They added two more in the fourth on a Delmon Young solo homer and a Don Kelly RBI single.  Morton was done after six innings, and Chris Resop replaced him.

Meanwhile, Verlander had given up a walk to Neil Walker in the first, but still no hits.  Andrew McCutchen was able to draw another walk off him in the seventh, and Resop gave up a two run double to Young to make it 6-0.  Verlander still had a no-hitter through eight innings, giving up only two walks.

Michael McKenry grounded out to lead off the ninth, and Josh Harrison fell behind 0-2 after some bad swings at balls in the dirt.  He was able to get a hanging curveball over the plate, and took it back up the middle to break up the no-no.  The next two batters grounded out, giving Verlander the complete game-one hit-shutout.

Morton’s final line: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 4 K, 1 BB.
Verlander’s final line: 9 IP ,1 H, O R, 12 K, 2 BB.

Clint Hurdle made some ridiculous comments after the game, saying that getting no-hit would be “bittersweet” since he grew up a Tigers fan and would have liked to be part of history.

Can’t be too upset with tonight’s game, considering Verlander has already thrown two no-hitters and won the Cy Young and MVP awards last year.  He was absolutely dominant and pitched a heck of a game.  There’s still a chance to win the series in MoTown and get back to one game under .500.  The Pirates also remained un-no-hit since 1971, when they were no-hit by Bob Gibson on August 14th.  The streak is the second longest active in the majors, behind the Cubs.

Pirates (18-21) – Tigers (19-20)

Win: Verlander (5-1)
Loss: Morton (2-4)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs