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Live Tigers Blog: Bats lead Tigers to win over Pirates

Geoff Robinson, The Detroit News
Justin Upton watches his long home run in the first inning Tuesday.

FINAL: TIGERS 8, PIRATES 2

The Tigers jumped on the Pirates early and Anibal Sanchez cruised through the first five innings. Just when it looked like Pittsburgh was going to claw its way back into the game, the Tigers bats struck again with a three-run sixth inning to essentially put the game away.

Justin Upton hit his first home run as a Tiger in the first inning with a mammoth, 452-foot shot to centerfield. He had himself a day, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

In the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez came in with an 8-2 lead before giving up a leadoff double to Starling Marte. No harm, no foul, though, as Rodriguez set the next three down in order. Francisco Cervelli flew out to centerfield, Gregory Polanco lined out to first and Josh Harrison struck out to end the game.

Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez notched two RBIs apiece.

Sanchez pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks. He may have gone six scoreless innings if not for a throw from Nick Castellanos brought Miguel Cabrera off the bag and extended Pittsburgh's two-run sixth, leading to Marte's home run.

Bottom 8th: Tigers 8, Pirates 2

J.D. Martinez nabbed his fourth hit of the day to leadoff the eighth inning, but the Tigers couldn't do anything with him.

Nick Castellanos flew out to centerfield, Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew out to left field and Anthony Gose fouled out to end the inning.

Francisco Rodriguez is coming out for the ninth.

Top 8th: Tigers 8, Pirates 2

Buck Farmer was given the ball for the eighth inning and proceeded to walk Matt Joyce on four pitches. His first two pitches to Andrew McCutchen were both balls as well, but Farmer came back to strike out the former MVP, getting him to swing at a biting slider. David Freese grounded into an inning-ending double play two pitches later.

Nice job by Farmer to not get rattled after his first six pitches were all off the plate. His slider to McCutchen was nasty.

Bottom 7th: Tigers 8, Pirates 2

After Jose Iglesias lined out to third base to leadoff the inning, Ian Kinsler got in on the Tigers hit party, hitting one just over the fence for a home run off of Pittsburgh reliever, Cory Luebke. It's now 8-2, and it would take a massive breakdown from the Tigers bullpen to prevent this team from ending its two-game skid.

Justin Upton couldn't notch his fifth hit of the day, going down swinging at a ball in the dirt. Miguel Cabrera was able to draw a two-out walk, but Victor Martinez popped out to end the inning.

Top 7th: Tigers 7, Pirates 2

Drew VerHagen came on in relief for the Tigers, getting Josh Harrison to groundout to leadoff the inning. Michael Morse followed suit and Jordy Mercer did the same for a neat and tidy inning for VerHagen.

Bottom 6th: Tigers 7, Pirates 2

Kyle Lobstein was having a good outing against his former club. Then came the sixth inning.

Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton both notched singles to right field to leadoff the inning. Miguel Cabrera flew out to right field, moving Kinsler up to third. Victor Martinez crushed two foul balls just outside the pole in left field before hitting a double to the gap to score both Kinsler and Upton to make it 6-2. J.D. Martinez then joined in on the party with a double down the left field line to give the Tigers a 7-2 cushion.

Nick Castellanos continued his horrific day at the plate (0-for-4, 3 Ks) by flying out to right field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a two-out walk to put men on first and second base, but Anthony Gose struck out to end the inning.

Justin Upton is now 4-for-4 on the day. His line looks like this: 4-for-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, HR

Top 6th: Tigers 4, Pirates 2

Anibal Sanchez was dealing, striking out Matt Joyce and Andrew McCutchen to leadoff the inning. The Tigers' starter got a ground ball off the bat of David Freese, but Nick Castellanos' throw to first base brought Miguel Cabrera off the bag and extended the inning. That's when Starling Marte struck, drilling a ball deep to left field and gone to trim the Tigers lead to 4-2.

Sanchez was dialed in. Freese was given a single because Castellanos had to go to the ground to make the play, but it's still a throw that Castellanos has to make.

Sanchez' day unfortunately ended with a walk to Francisco Cervelli. Justin Wilson came out of the bullpen and got Gregory Polanco to groundout to end the inning.

Bottom 5th: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out, Anthony Gose grounded out and Jose Iglesias did the same as Kyle Lobstein threw just nine pitches in setting the Tigers down in order in the fifth.

Top 5th: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Anibal Sanchez has found something as he worked another 1-2-3 inning for the Tigers in the fifth.

Sanchez got Josh Harrison to groundout to third, Michael Morse to pop out and Jordy Mercer to groundout to third to end the inning.

It's becoming apparent that this is Sanchez's day. He's struggled at times with control, but the Pirates haven't been able to put together any kind of real threat. He's sitting at 84 pitches right now.

Bottom 4th: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Former Tiger Kyle Lobstein took the mound for Pittsburgh in the fourth inning, ending the day for Juan Nicasio, who struggled mightily with his control and worked at a snail's pace.

Justin Upton greeted Lobstein to the game with a leadoff infield single. Miguel Cabrera couldn't produce against his former teammate, grounding into a double play that cleared the bases.

Victor Martinez worked a walk from Lobstein and J.D. Martinez stroked a single, but Nick Castellanos struck out for the third time today to end the inning.

Top 4th: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Anibal Sanchez has settled into a groove, striking out two Pirates for his first punch outs of the day and getting Gregory Polanco to fly out for a tidy 1-2-3 inning.

It was up and down there for a while, but Sanchez appears to have found the strike zone. He's up to 71 pitches through four innings and the Tigers probably hope to get one or two more good ones out of him before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Bottom 3rd: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Anthony Gose both drew one-out walks. Jose Iglesias grounded out to put the runners on second and third for Ian Kinsler, who flew out to centerfield to end the inning.

Nick Castellanos struck out for the second time today to leadoff the inning.

Top 3rd: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Anibal Sanchez found himself struggling with his control again early in the third inning, but he got David Freese to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners to get out of trouble.

Jordy Mercer singled and Matt Joyce drew a walk to start the inning. Mercer moved up to third when Andrew McCutchen flew out to deep left field.

Sanchez appeared to flirting with disaster to start the inning, but the double play ball is a good indicator that maybe he's righting the ship. He's thrown 57 pitches through three innings.

Bottom 2nd: Tigers 4, Pirates 0

Anthony Gose singled to right field to leadoff the inning and swiped second base on a ball in the dirt to give the Tigers a runner in scoring position with nobody out.

Jose Iglesias couldn't get the job done, lining out to right field. Ian Kinsler drew a walk to put men on first and second and the Tigers got a little greedy going for the double steal with Justin Upton at the plate. Gose was gunned down at third. It looked like Nicasio might get out of the inning with a ground ball off of Upton's bat, but Josh Harrison bobbled the ball and compounded his error by airmailing the ball into the stands while trying to get Kinsler at the plate.

That throw put Upton on third base for Miguel Cabrera, who delivered with a base hit to right field to give the Tigers a 4-0 edge.

Victor Martinez delivered a hard-hit single to right field to move Cabrera to third base, putting runners on the corners for J.D. Martinez, who struck out swinging to end the inning.

Juan Nicasio isn't going to last long today. He threw 38 pitches in the second inning and now sits at 68 total.

Top 2nd: Tigers 2, Pirates 0

Anibal Sanchez struggled hitting his spots in the second inning, walking Gregory Polanco and giving up a single to Josh Harrison with two outs. He got out of the inning by getting Michael Morse to groundout to second, but it was definitely not smooth sailing as it was in the first inning.

Sanchez really struggled getting the ball down in the zone. When he did try to hit his spots down there, he bounced a few in the dirt. Even the first two outs of the inning where he got Starling Marte to fly out centerfield and Francisco Cervelli to fly out right field to start the inning, the ball was up in the zone and hit hard.

Sanchez labored, throwing 29 pitches in the inning. He's up to 41 through two.

Bottom 1st: Tigers 2, Pirates 0

After Ian Kinsler popped out on the first pitch of the game from Juan Nicasio, Justin Upton hit a bomb to centerfield for his first home run as a Tiger.

Upton got ahold of that one and hit it out to one of the deepest parts of Comerica Park. The announced distance was a whopping 451 feet.

Following the mammoth blast, Miguel Cabrera walked on four pitches, Victor Martinez worked a walk of his own after falling behind in the count and J.D. Martinez singled to left field to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

With men on first and second, the Tigers had a chance to keep padding the lead, but Nick Castellanos struck out on a check-swing and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out looking.

Things still looking good for the Tigers as Nicasio struggled with his control and threw 30 first inning pitches.

Top 1st: Tigers 0, Pirates 0

Nick Castellanos was eaten up by a ground ball off the bat of Andrew McCutchen to give Pittsburgh a 1-out baserunner. A few pitches later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a perfect throw down to second base to gun down McCutchen as he tried to swipe the bag. David Freese grounded out on the next pitch and Anibal Sanchez got out of the inning.

Sanchez got three ground balls in the inning, so he's locating his pitches well early on.

Matt Joyce grounded out to third base to start the inning.

Tigers looking to stop two-game skid

Anibal Sanchez showed flashes of his old self against the Marlins last week, but today he makes his first start of the season at Comerica Park and will be charged with slowing down a Pittsburgh team that roughed up Justin Verlander yesterday en route to a 7-4 victory.

Sanchez gave up just two earned runs on four hits last week in Miami, but today the Tigers will be looking to get a bit more out of the former American League ERA champ as he went just five innings in his season debut.

Sanchez won’t have the Tigers’ No. 1 catcher behind the plate as James McCann was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain.

McCann was injured as he collided with Pirates first baseman John Jaso during Monday’s game at Comerica Park.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be the Tigers’ starting catcher Tuesday. The team called up Bobby Wilson from Triple-A Toledo to serve as the No. 2 catcher in McCann’s absence.

The Pirates are the Tigers "natural" rival, according to Major League Baseball, so they see these guys every year. Pittsburgh has won 10 of the last 14 showdowns between the two teams.

TIGERS LINEUP

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Justin Upton, LF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. J.D. Martinez, RF

6. Nick Castellanos, 3B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Anthony Gose, CF

9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Anibal Sanchez, P

PIRATES LINEUP

1. Matt Joyce, DH

2. Andrew McCutchen, CF

3. David Freese, 3B

4. Starling Marte, LF

5. Francisco Cervelli, C

6. Gregory Polanco, RF

7. Josh Harrison, 2B

8. Michael Morse, 1B

9. Jordy Mercer, SS

Juan Nicasio, P

TIGERS VS. PIRATES

When: Tuesday, 1:10 p.m.

Where: Comerica Park

TV / radio: FSD / 97.1 FM

Starting pitchers: Anibal Sanchez, Tigers (1-0, 3.60) vs. Juan Nicasio (1-0, 1.50), Pirates.