Tigers win opener … and then they don’t
DETROIT (AP) — Nicholas Castellanos slid across home plate, Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli lunged at him — and for a few fleeting moments, the Detroit Tigers rushed on to the field to celebrate a win on opening day.
All while the Pirates waited for a possible reprieve.
“We thought we had a shot, a legitimate shot, at getting the play our way. The play went our way because we made a good enough throw and good enough tag to get him before he touched the plate,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “At the end of the day, you just wait to see what they say in New York.”
Sure enough, the call was overturned and Castellanos was ruled out — a replay reversal that left the Tigers miffed over an hour later, after Gregory Polanco’s three-run homer in the 13th inning gave Pittsburgh a 13-10 victory Friday.
Castellanos was initially called safe with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th, but as the review dragged on, the jubilation died down a bit, and the Detroit players waited patiently in front of their dugout for word from the umpires .
Once it came, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t so calm. In his first game since 2014, he got ejected after the call was flipped.
Then the teams played on.
“We’ve had plenty of plays that need clear and conclusive evidence to overturn, and there was one angle that maybe looked like it could have gotten my sleeve, and let’s overturn the game and not let the Tigers win,” Castellanos said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “It doesn’t really seem consistent to how the process has been run in the past.”
Polanco’s drive to right-center on a 3-0 pitch from Alex Wilson (0-1) finally gave the Pirates a comfortable lead — or as comfortable as could be on a wacky day when both teams scored four runs in the ninth.
Detroit put two men on base in the 13th, but Steven Brault (1-0) was able to hold on and finish his third scoreless inning of relief.
By the time the 5-hour, 27-minute game was over, there were only three umpires and one manager left. Plate umpire Mike Everitt exited in the eighth with a concussion after being hit in the mask by a pitch.
Detroit’s franchise-record streak of six straight wins in season openers was snapped.
This game was pushed back a day, postponed because of rain Thursday. The temperature was 36 degrees at the start.
The Tigers had the bases loaded and nobody out in the first and fifth but failed to score. They took a 2-0 lead in the second when Mikie Mahtook, Jose Iglesias and Dixon Machado led off with consecutive doubles.
Cervelli’s double highlighted a three-run fourth for Pittsburgh, and Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run double in a four-run seventh for the Tigers. The Pirates scored twice in the eighth to tie it at 6.
Starling Marte’s triple started a four-run ninth for Pittsburgh, but closer Felipe Rivero couldn’t finish the Tigers off in the bottom half. He allowed a two-run double to James McCann and was eventually pulled. Machado hit a two-run double off Josh Smoker with two outs to make it 10-all.
“Saw some people leaving at the top of the ninth,” said Tigers bench coach Steve Liddle, who spoke to reporters afterward instead of Gardenhire. “I think with this team, you might want to stick around.”
JaCoby Jones hit the single that initially appeared to have scored Castellanos, but the play at the plate was close after a throw by left fielder Corey Dickerson.
“I didn’t feel a tag, and Cervelli says, `I can’t believe they overturned it,'” Castellanos said. “So two people involved in the play were shocked.”
Cervelli said he tagged Castellanos, and his surprise over the reversal was more because of the situation.
“I couldn’t believe because the extra innings, but he was out,” Cervelli said. “I thought they were gonna leave it that way.”
Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann allowed four runs and six hits in six innings in the first opening day start of his career. He struck out eight and walked one and looked reasonably sharp aside from the fourth inning.
Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova allowed two runs and six hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out four.
It was an exciting game, but not a particularly clean one. Polanco misplayed a flyball to right that went for a double, and he was also doubled off third base for the third out of the eighth.
McCann had a throwing error as well as a passed ball that scored a run — and he was also called for catcher’s interference.
Pirates: Pittsburgh began the season with RHPs Nick Burdi (elbow surgery) and A.J. Schugel (shoulder discomfort) on the disabled list.
Tigers: RHPs Mike Fiers (lumbar strain) and Johnny Barbato (forearm strain) started the season on the DL. … Mahtook’s face appeared to scrape across the dirt on an awkward headfirst slide on his second-inning double, but he came up laughing and seemed fine.
Detroit RHP Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA last season) starts Saturday against RHP Trevor Williams (7-9, 4.07). Last August, Williams allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings in a victory over the Tigers.