Tigers’ Opening Day loss included a bit of everything
Detroit — So many crazy things in one game.
The Tigers’ 13-10, 13-inning Opening Day loss to the Pirates on Friday featured, 31 hits and 13 walks off 15 pitchers. There was a wild pitch, a passed ball and a catcher’s interference. The teams’ closers combined to give up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings.
“It was a tough one,” said Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann, whose efforts were all but forgotten by the time this game finished, 5:27 after his first pitch. “We certainly had our chances.”
The Tigers loaded the bases with no outs twice against Pirates starter Ivan Nova and didn’t score — in the first and the fifth. They left 13 runners on base all told and were 8-for-22 with runners in scoring position.
But still, they carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth and it felt comfortable the way Zimmermann was cruising along. After allowing a double to Adam Frazier to start the game, he retired 10 straight. He pitched back-to-back clean, nine-pitch innings in the second and third with five strikeouts.
“I had everything going today,” he said. “Fastball command was spot-on.”
But with one out in the fourth, Gregory Polanco bounced one to the left of second baseman Dixon Machado, a routine-looking play until it hit the lip of the grass and bounced over his glove.
“It just hit the lip,” Zimmermann said. “That doesn’t happen and it’s probably another one-two-three inning.”
Josh Bell followed with a single and Corey Dickerson dunked a soft line drive to center to score Polanco. With two outs, Francisco Cervelli lashed a 90-mph fastball to the wall in center, a two-run double that put the Pirates ahead 3-2.
“The one mistake I threw was that pitch to Cervelli,” Zimmermann said. “The height was good but it was six inches too far inside. But I felt like I made my pitches.”
The fourth run was set up by an errant throw. Polanco stole second and James McCann’s throw bounced off Jose Iglesias’ glove into center field. McCann was charged with the error.
McCann was in the middle of a lot of the madness.
“I did check off a lot of boxes to start the year,” he said.
His catcher’s interference was part of the four-run Pirates uprising in the ninth, as was a passed ball that let in a run. He also struck out and hit into a double play to end bases-loaded threats in the first and fifth innings.
“The one at-bat I really didn’t like was the strikeout, where I chased the pitch,” he said. “Call it the excitement of the first at-bat of the season or whatever. But the double-play ball I hit hard (101-mph exit velocity). There’s nothing you can do about that.
“Eventually you hope they’re going to find holes. They say it evens out. I’m not sure it does, but they say it does.”
McCann redeemed himself. He threw out two baserunners and rapped a clutch two-run double in the bottom of the ninth that tied the score.
The game also showcased the impact Ron Gardenhire hopes to have on the team.
“We’re going to be an aggressive team,” he said before the game. “We’re going to try to put pressure on the other team and force them to make mistakes.”
Miguel Cabrera triggered a four-run seventh inning with a two-run double. He also showed some aggressiveness scoring from second on a single by Nick Castellanos, running on the strong arm of right-fielder Polanco.
Castellanos later scored from second on a ground ball that rolled off the glove of first baseman Josh Bell.
“Guys are trying to make plays,” said bench coach Steve Liddle. “Guys are trying to make things happen. As long as they’re being aggressive, that’s what Gardy wants.”