Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was pleased to see his
hitters finally respond after a prolonged slump.
Hurdle’s team might have a difficult time continuing that
resurgence in Friday night’s interleague opener against the Detroit
Tigers’ Brad Penny.
Before its two games in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh (20-23) scored 15
runs and hit .195 with runners in scoring position during a
season-high six-game losing streak. The Pirates broke out of that
funk by scoring 10 runs and were 5 for 18 (.278) in the clutch
while sweeping the Reds.
“Incrementally, we’ve gotten better,” Hurdle said. “We’ve made
some progress in some areas. It’s good to see.
“I do believe it’s closer to them getting in an offensive
consistency that we should be in. I’ll be looking forward to the
day when this thing gets rolling, and it seems to me like it’s
getting closer every day we play.”
The Pirates won three straight one other time this season from
May 7-9. To match that streak, they’ll likely have to find a way to
get hits off the red-hot Penny (4-3, 4.11 ERA).
The Tigers right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA in his three
starts this month and scattered five hits over eight innings in
Saturday’s 3-0 win against Kansas City.
“I pitched terribly the first few games (this season),” Penny
said. “It’s nice to get a winning streak going.”
Penny, in his 12th major league season and second in the AL, is
3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his last six starts against the Pirates but
the most recent one came in an 8-1 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit, though, enters this matchup having lost three in a row
following a 10-1 stretch and dropped a pair of one-run games in
The Tigers (22-21) got back-to-back home runs from Brennan
Boesch and Miguel Cabrera in the eighth inning to tie Thursday’s
game at Fenway Park, but Al Alburquerque retired only one of the
five batters he faced in the ninth as Detroit lost 4-3.
Detroit has batted .200 and scored five runs during its losing
streak after averaging 6.1 runs and batting .273 over its previous
11 games. With this series at PNC Park, the Tigers will have to try
to end those struggles without the benefit of a designated
Victor Martinez, batting .315, or Alex Avila, hitting .283, will
likely have to sit on the bench in each of three games. Normally a
DH, Martinez has played just eight games at catcher this
“It’s a challenge. It’s not easy,” manager Jim Leyland told the
team’s website. “They’re going to both play. Victor is going to
play Sunday for sure because they have a left-handed pitcher.”
Martinez might start at catcher on Friday and face Jeff Karstens
(2-2, 3.62), who is winless in his last four starts despite a
respectable 3.38 ERA.
The right-hander has been given a combined six runs of support
over that stretch. He allowed two runs over five innings Saturday
in Milwaukee but got a single run from his teammates in an 8-2
Karstens yielded two runs over seven innings to the Tigers on
June 13 but did not get a decision in a 4-3 defeat, which gave
Detroit a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.
The teams have split their 12 all-time regular season matchups