Chad Kuhl was the piggyback starter for the Pirates, while lefty Matthew Boyd took to the mound for Detroit. After blanks in the first inning, Detroit’s C.J. Cron hit his third home run of the year to stake his club to the early 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Pirates to respond. With two outs and the bases load, Erik González snuck a single through the left side of the infield, just out of reach of the shortstop, Niko Goodrum, putting the Pirates up 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, it was González who came through again for Pittsburgh, this time lining a ball over the left field wall with a runner on for his first home run of the season, pushing the Pirates lead up to three, 4-1.
Kuhl made way for piggyback reliever Steven Brault after four innings of work, allowing only one run and one hit, while striking out seven. Brault wouldn’t have the same success. After a Christin Stewart double, followed by a Jeimer Candelario single, Brault walked Victor Reyes to load the bases. Austin Romine singled in a run before JaCoby Jones drew a bases loaded walk, cutting the Pirate lead to one, 4-3. After a mound visit, Brault walked another batter, this time issuing a free pass to Goodrum and allowing another run to score, thus rendering the game tied at 4-all.
Geoff Hartlieb entered the game out of the pen after Brault failed to secure a single out (Brault was ultimately charged with four runs). After striking out Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera, Hartlieb walked Cron on four pitches, scoring Romine and making the game 5-4. Stewart made his way to the dish for the second time in the inning, but grounded out, shortstop to first base, to finally end the frame.
Kevin Newman kicked off the bottom of the inning with a single, but Josh Bell and Colin Moran followed it up with strikeouts, and it was looking like the Pirates might squander a leadoff hit. A Bryan Reynolds single brought the team’s batting average leader Phillip Evans to the plate. He was able to make solid contact with a middle-low slider and launch it into the bullpen for his first major league home run, giving the Pirates a 7-5 lead in the process. Boyd ultimately lasted 4.2 innings for the Tigers, giving up eight hits, seven runs, and he walked three.
Yacksel Rios made entry to pitch the sixth for the Pirates. A single by Reyes and ultimately an RBI double from Jones brought Detroit back within one, 7-6.
Things were again made complicated by Pirates’ pitching in the top of the seventh inning with Rios still on the mound. A Schoop single and Cabrera hit by pitch brought up Cron with two men on. He would ultimately walk, but not before Jacob Stallings would get crossed up on a pitch down the middle, which was ultimately erroneously called a ball, and home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus tossed manager Derek Shelton for chirping about the call from the dugout.
That meant bench coach Don Kelly was to take over managerial duties for Pittsburgh. His first move was to give Rios the hook in favor of Miguel Del Pozo. After making entry, that’s when things went from bad to worse. A series of singles capped off by a double yielded six runs in all, and when the game headed to the seventh inning stretch, the Pirates were trailing, 12-7. Rios ended his night with four runs charged against him, while Del Pozo was tagged with three.
Buck Farmer entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning and was met with a Bryan Reynolds single. After an Evans groundout, Adam Frazier reached on a base hit, while Stallings reached via a walk. González doubled home a pair, securing his third hit and sixth RBI, making the game 12-9.
Joe Jiménez entered the game in the bottom of the ninth in a save opportunity. Josh Bell and Colin Moran both struck out. A Reynolds single pushed his hit count to three on the night. He would take second on defensive indifference. Evans then picked up his third hit of the night on an RBI single to left, making it a 12-10 game. Frazier came to the dish representing the tying run for Pittsburgh. On a two strike pitch, Frazier launched a ball into deep right-centerfield. Jiménez pointed toward the sky, but it was a Frazier home run (2).
Nik Turley got the top of the 10th inning for the Pirates. Detroit was able to plate the runner who started at second base off a Dawel Lugo single. Jones, the runner, was able to get in just before John Ryan Murphy had a chance to tag him. The ball had squirted away, regardless.
Bryan Garcia was the relief choice for the Tigers in the bottom of the 10th. The Pirates managed to score the leadoff runner, as well, extending the game into the 11th. Cole Tucker hit a sacrifice fly that scored Murphy after he had advanced on a González single into right.
Starting to run relatively low on available players, acting manager Don Kelly called on Dovydas Neverauskas to pitch the 11th. After a strikeout, Candelario roped a single down the line in right, scoring the runner from second and recapturing the lead for the Tigers, 14-13. Reyes stole second for Detroit, and an errant throw from Murphy resulted in him taking third, as well. A Romine single hit softly through the left side of the infield padded the Tigers’ lead, 15-13. After Jones reached base on a walk, Goodrum ripped a ball over Tucker’s head in right, plating two more runs, 17-13. After Schoop grounded out, Newman to Bell, the frame finally concluded.
Carson Fulmer took to the mound in an attempt to wrap it up for Detroit in the bottom of the 11th inning, with Moran on second and Reynolds at the plate. Reynolds struck out, then Jarrod Dyson flew a ball to left for the second out. Frazier flied out to center to end the game.
Bryan Garcia (2-0) got the win, while Dovydas Neverauskas took the loss (0-2). Time of the game was four hours and 33 minutes.
The Pirates fell to 3-11 on the season, while the Tigers improved to 6-5. These two teams return to the field tomorrow afternoon at 4:05 for game two of the series.