The Pirates scored five runs in the first inning and three more in the second, homering four times en route to an 11-6 victory over the Tigers Monday night.
After Jeff Locke gave up a run in the top of the first, the Pirates loaded the bases with a single and two walks against Justin Verlander, and then Starling Marte cleared the bases with a triple to the left-field corner. Travis Snider then reached on an error by Victor Martinez, scoring Polanco, and came home two batters later as Jordy Mercer and Jayson Nix both singled. Verlander, who had poor velocity throughout the inning, then departed with a sore shoulder.
In the second, Gregory Polanco walked, moved up on a steal and an error, and came home on Russell Martin's sacrifice fly. Then Marte singled and came home when Snider blasted off to left.
Things got dicey for Locke in the sixth, when he gave up two singles and an RBI double to Torii Hunter, and J.D. Martinez walked to load the bases. Alex Avila then singled in a run before Locke gave way to Jared Hughes, who only allowed one inherited runner to score. It wasn't a very good outing for Locke, who walked four batters and allowed four runs over five-plus innings. Snider had to bail Locke out in the second, too, with a good throw to the plate to end the inning. (The flipside, of course, is that this was a terrific game for Travis Snider.) Locke isn't making the best case to remain in the rotation when Gerrit Cole returns, and he's optionable, so he could soon be headed to Indianapolis for a few weeks until rosters expand.
The Pirates managed to get two runs back in the bottom of the sixth as Russell Martin and Ike Davis each hit solo homers, and the Bucs ended the inning with a 10-4 lead. The Tigers got two runs off Casey Sadler in the eighth, but after Tony Watson entered in relief, Polanco ended the inning by making a nice pick in right on a single by Miguel Cabrera, then throwing out Rajai Davis at the plate. Snider hit his second homer of the game in the bottom half of the inning and is now batting a respectable .251/.324/.414 on the season.
The win also, by the way, moved the Royals into sole possession of first place. I'm kind of divided on the Royals -- I feel for their fans, whose situation has been similar to ours, but I also feel their team deserves to lose because it's badly run. Maybe the broader point here, though, is that the Tigers are floundering right now. Let's hope the Pirates can continue to take advantage.