The Pirates managed just three hits against Shane Greene and allowed a run when they leaned too hard on A.J. Burnett as they lost 2-0 against the Tigers Tuesday night.
Burnett was great overall, whiffing eight batters in 6.2 innings, many of them on balls he buried in the dirt. For the first two thirds of the game, he and Greene quickly hopped from one half inning to the next.
There were, it should be said, a number of weird ball and strike calls in the Tigers' favor (one of which led to Clint Hurdle's ejection in the eighth). But the real separator between Greene and Burnett was that Greene was more efficient, and the Pirates unwisely relied on Burnett even as he approached, and then passed, 100 pitches.
The Bucs' problems started in the bottom of the sixth, when they had Burnett lead off after 87 pitches -- maybe not the worst move, but the Pirates needed to be prepared to yank him at the first sign of trouble, and they weren't. In the top of the seventh, Burnett got a groundout, then gave up back-to-back walks to Alex Avila and Jose Iglesias. If it hadn't already been obvious that Burnett should have been removed, it was at that point. Burnett got Greene to foul out on a bunt attempt, but then got into a 3-1 count against Rajai Davis, who grounded a ball just under Neil Walker's glove to bring home a run.
The Tigers got another run in the ninth as Iglesias doubled (thanks largely to an uncharacteristically lazy-looking play by Andrew McCutchen in the outfield), Davis walked, and Ian Kinsler singled. But Greene had already mostly sealed the Pirates' fate -- if you can't score, you can't win. The Pirates drew no walks and had just three hits, all singles.
A couple of positives here, though -- Arquimedes Caminero's outings have quickly become must-see TV, as he threw 101 MPH gas and looked terrifying in relief of Burnett despite being tagged with the Tigers' second run. And, of course, it was great to see Burnett looking like his old self and not whatever he was in Philadelphia last year. If he keeps pitching like he has so far this season, that will go a long way toward easing some fans' worries about the Bucs' rotation.