Polanco doubles twice as Pirates beat Tigers, Verlander 7-4
DETROIT (AP) Gregory Polanco had two of Pittsburgh's six doubles, and the Pirates chased Justin Verlander during the fifth inning of a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Verlander (1-1), who took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning at Miami in his first start, allowed seven runs and 10 hits – five of them doubles – in 4 1/3 innings. His 111 pitches were his most in an outing lasting fewer than five innings.
He appeared to have good stuff early, but the Pirates were able to run up his pitch counts in the first two innings. Verlander needed 18 pitches as Pittsburgh scored a run in the first, then threw 37 in the second.
Jonathan Niese (1-0) gave up four runs – three earned – and five hits in six innings. Three relievers finished, with Matt Melancon pitching a one-hit ninth for his third save.
Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez homered for the Tigers, who have lost two straight after a 3-0 start.
Matt Joyce hit an RBI single in the first, ending a 31 at-bat hitless streak dating to July 9 against Seatte's Felix Hernandez, and Jody Mercer fouled off four two-strike pitches in the second, then lined a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. Castellanos hit a solo homer in the bottom half, but sacrifice flies by Francisco Cervelli in the third and John Jaso in the fourth boosted the lead to 5-1.
After Verlander was chased in the third, Polanco hit an RBI double off Drew VerHagen and Sean Rodriguez singled in a run for a 7-1 lead.
With the Pirates fouling off many Verlander pitches and an announced crowd of 26,271 on a chilly weekday afternoon, 39-year-old Bill Dugan caught five foul balls in the first eight innings. Three were easy pop flies over the backstop, but he also snared two ricochets off the facing of the press box.
Dugan, who shares season tickets with a friend, said he's caught over 200 balls during games and batting practice. He said his previous single-game record was four in 2002.
Dugan, who gave all the balls to nearby kids, drew the biggest cheers of the game and posed for selfies with impressed fans.
Joyce had two hits against Verlander and his hitting .400 (8 for 20) against his former Tigers teammate. Josh Harrison, who singled and scored in the second, had a famous moment against Verlander in 2012, breaking up a no-hit bid with one out in the ninth.
McCann threw out Joyce and Polanco trying to steal. The Tigers have only allowed one stolen base in six tries this season, with McCann throwing out four of five runners and Jarrod Salatamacchia catching his only one.
Pirates: C Elias Diaz is resting his throwing arm and hopes to return to action in the next couple weeks. Diaz, who won't need surgery for his sore elbow, is expected to start his season in Triple-A.
Tigers: James McCann left in the sixth inning after rolling an ankle in a collision with Jaso at first. The Tigers announced the catcher sprained an ankle. … RHP Daniel Norris (back) and RHP Alex Wilson (shoulder) each pitched two scoreless innings for Class A Lakeland during injury rehabilitation assignments Sunday. … OF Cameron Maybin doubled in three at-bats in his fourth game with Lakeland.
In the second game of the series at Comerica Park, part of a four-game home-and-home stretch between the teams, Detroit's Anibal Sanchez (1-0) is to start Tuesday against Juan Nicasio (1-0, 1.50). The Pirates have won four straight at Comerica Park, about a mile from the site of Bennett Park, where Pittsburgh won the 1909 World Series.