Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simon, Rajai deliver as Tigers blank Bucs

Right-hander Alfredo Simon threw eight shutout innings and center fielder Rajai Davis swatted the go-ahead hit for the second consecutive night as the Tigers beat the Pirates, 1-0, on Wednesday at PNC Park.
A night after right-hander Shane Greene efficiently shut down the Pirates for eight innings, Simon did the same, allowing two hits and striking out two as he breezed through the Bucs' lineup on 108 pitches.
"The key was attack the hitters and try to get the ball down," Simon said. "The two-seamer worked really well today and all my pitches were great."
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, saw another solid start go to waste, as left-handerFrancisco Liriano gave up four hits and struck out seven over six innings of work. But Liriano served up a leadoff homer to Davis in the sixth, and that was all the run support Simon required. More >
"He pitched extremely well, strong outing," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Liriano. "One ball hung over the plate, and they hit it into the left-field bleachers."
The Tigers have won eight of their first nine games for the first time since 1984, when they started off 9-0 en route to a World Series championship. Detroit has outscored its opponents, 54-21, so far this season.
Rajai reigns again in the Burgh: On Jackie Robinson Day, Davis earned the start in center field and in the leadoff spot for a second consecutive night to give Detroit another right-handed hitter against the lefty Liriano. The Tigers expected him to be a spark-plug, not a power source, but he jumped Liriano's first pitch of the sixth inning and sent it out to left-center field. It was Davis' first home run at PNC Park despite beginning his career here in 2006-07. More >
One Buc at second: Since the seventh inning of Monday night's home opener, the Pirates' offense has sputtered and stalled. The Bucs have had only one runner reach second base since then -- Andrew McCutchen did so Wednesday after he and Neil Walker hit back-to-back singles in the fourth inning -- and they've managed only six hits, all singles. More >
Simon says swing early: Five days after Simon saw a gem in Cleveland fall apart with five straight hits in the sixth inning, his eight scoreless innings marked the longest scoreless performance of his career. He kept going thanks in no small part to quick outs -- four on the first pitch, three more on the second. That included Starling Marte's first-pitch out to end the fourth inning after back-to-back singles gave the Pirates their first threat. More >
"He looks like he's taking a walk in the park when he's pitching, like he's playing catch in the backyard with his son." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus on Simon
"We've been in this spot before, and when you dig a little hole, you've got to find a way to dig yourself out." -- Hurdle on the Pirates' offense
After setting an American League record with 24 consecutive scoreless innings to begin the season, Tigers pitching closed out this series with 19 consecutive scoreless innings in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates' last run was Corey Hart's homer off Anibal Sanchez's last pitch Monday afternoon. The Tigers have pitched four shutouts through their first nine games in a season for the first time in franchise history. They're the second Major League team with four shutouts this season, joining the Oakland A's.
Ausmus' challenge pulled Simon out of a potentially treacherous situation in the opening inning when replay showed James McCann threw out McCutchen trying to steal second base. Ausmus was at the top of the dugout steps as soon as McCutchen was ruled safe and quickly challenged once word came that replay showed shortstop Jose Iglesias tagged McCutchen before he touched the bag. The overturn came on the first challenge of the season for Ausmus.
Home-plate umpire Jerry Layne left the game in the ninth inning after being hit in the face by a Mark Melancon 3-2 pitch to Miguel Cabrera that glanced off catcher Francisco Cervelli's glove. Layne was replaced behind the plate by second-base umpire Bob Davidson. There was some confusion as to whether Layne had called for a foul tip before walking off the field, and after several conversations with both managers, Davidson eventually ruled that the pitch was a ball and Cabrera walked to first base. More >
Tigers: The Tigers get an off-day in Detroit on Thursday before beginning a 10-game homestand by opening a three-game series with the White Sox at Comerica Park on Friday at 1:08 p.m. ET. David Price will make his third start of the season opposite Jeff Samardzija.
Pirates: After an off-day Thursday, the Pirates will return to PNC Park for a three-game series against the Brewers beginning Friday night at 7:05. Left-hander Jeff Locke will get the start opposite Milwaukee righty Jimmy Nelson, who held the Bucs to just two ground-ball singles while striking out nine over seven scoreless innings on Saturday.

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