By Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk
Pittsburgh (4-2) @ Detroit (3-1)
DETROIT – The Pirates are coming off a rough series against the Cincinnati Reds. They had numerous chances to score and came up mostly empty throughout. They look to bounce back against a tough Tigers lineup that can put up a lot of runs in a hurry. The offense is going to need to find it’s rhythm if the Bucs are going to get a win or two. Clint Hurdle will likely roll out the same lineup as he had the first five games of the season after Francisco Cervelli had the day off on Sunday.
Game 1, Monday 1:10
The first game of the series pits Jon Niese against Justin Verlander. Niese last started against the Cardinals in the second game of the season. He was touched up for five runs, four earned, on five hits and a walk. Niese has shown in the past, in addition to Tuesday night, that he has trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. Look for that to be a point of emphasis as the Pirates continue through this season.
Justin Verlander pitched on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins. He pitched to a line of 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2BB, 5 K. He gave up a home run in the outing to Giancarlo Stanton. His fastball was not that of the upper 90s fastball many are used to seeing from Verlander. The velocity on the pitch averaged only 92.1 mph. The front of the Tigers bullpen is pedestrian at best. It is going to be key for the Pirates to get Verlander out of the game early so as to avoid facing former Pirate Justin Wilson, Mark Lowe, and Francisco Rodriguez at the back end of the Tigers’ pen.
Key game stat: Justin Verlander is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts, lifetime, against Pittsburgh.
Game 2, Tuesday 1:10
Juan Nicasio’s first start as a Pirate was certainly a pleasant surprise. He put up a strong performance against the Cardinals in the opening series of the season. He continued right where he left off in spring training by racking up the strikeouts as he had seven in six innings in his Pirates debut. Nicasio has never faced the Tigers in his career.
Last year was Shane Greene’s debut season. One of his best starts was against the Pirates when he went eight shutout innings, giving up three hit, and striking out three. According to Fangraphs, the game was his best pitched game of the season. His game score was 5 points higher than any of his other starts. Greene has a career ERA of 5.34. With the way the Pirates have been swinging the bats, they should be able to put up a better fight against Greene this season as opposed to last. Key game stat: Greene has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in interleague games in his short career.
Update: Looks like Anibal Sanchez is going to be the starter for game 2.
Game 1: Pirates 4, Tigers 6 Player of the Game: J.D. Martinez
Game 2: Pirates 4, Tigers 1 Player of the Game: John Jaso