It’s not often I say this, but the Tigers and Pirates really brought it Friday night. Offense reigned supreme in the Steel City with Pittsburgh and Detroit combining for a whopping 30 runs in an 11-inning slugfest at PNC Park. The offensive pyrotechnics included 32 hits (16 for each side), five doubles and four homers.
Pitching wasn’t exactly at a premium in Pittsburgh as Detroit hurler Matthew Boyd departed after being roughed up for eight hits and seven earned runs over 4 2/3 innings of largely ineffective work. That raised his season ERA to an ugly 9.20, which is surely not what the Tigers were anticipating when they tapped the lefty as their Opening Day starter two weeks ago.
Luckily for Boyd, the Tigers’ bats provided plenty of run support, putting up crooked numbers in the fifth (four), sixth (six) and 11th (four) innings. Detroit’s six-spot in the seventh chased Yacksel Rios, who opened the frame by loading the bases full of Tigers. Miguel Del Pozo inherited Rios’ jam, promptly allowing three consecutive hits as Detroit piled on to take a 12-7 lead.
Closer Joe Jimenez had a chance to put the Pirates away in the ninth and looked poised to do exactly that after fanning the first two batters he faced (Josh Bell and Colin Moran both went down swinging). The wheels fell off after that, however, as the 6’3” right-hander yielded three straight hits including a game-tying two-run smash (it was a 408-foot moon beam to deep center) courtesy of DH Adam Frazier.
Unfortunately Pittsburgh was just delaying the inevitable as Detroit stormed back in the 11th, rattling off four runs in the top half of the inning with two coming on Niko Goodrum’s two-out double to right field. Goodrum’s five RBI—which matched a career-best set in 2018—were more than he contributed in his previous 10 games combined. Along with teammates Jeimer Candelario, Christin Stewart, Victor Reyes and Austin Romine, Goodrum was one of five Tigers to log two or more hits in Detroit’s 17-13 triumph. In defeat, the Pirates squandered a career night from No. 9 hitter Erik Gonzalez, who drove in six of Pittsburgh’s 13 runs in the losing effort.
It took four hours and 33 minutes of baseball to decide a winner with Carson Fulmer finally extinguishing Pittsburgh’s flame with a 1-2-3 11th inning. The 6-5 Tigers hadn’t seen the field since Sunday after their series with St. Louis was scrapped following the Cardinals’ COVID outbreak. Meanwhile the struggling Bucs have now dropped eight of their last nine, running their record to a league-worst 3-11 on the young season.
If you bet the over Friday night, go collect your winnings. The Vegas total, set at a conservative 8.5 runs, was already well in hand by the fifth inning.