To be perfectly honest this game was rather frustrating at the end. Some bad base running and questionable bullpen decision really led to a loss where the Pirates were able to somewhat take advantage of Justin Verlander and then still came up with a loss. In the grand scheme of things losses are going to happen but this would have been a great one to get. This is only the Pirates fourth loss in the last 18 games so it is still a good run but losing always sucks.
Verlander was still really good. He has struggled some this year but was able to go seven innings and struck out 13 Pirates. He had some nasty breaking pitches and looked dominant at times and then at other times the Pirates were able to get to him. They got seven hits and walked two more times and scoring three times off him so it was one of the better encounters they have had with him.
All told this came down to two different plays. The Pirates scored a pair of runs to make the score 4-3, a deficit of only one, against Verlander in the seventh inning and then in the bottom half of the inning Clint Hurdle turned to Jose Contreras. Contreras proceeded to walk four Tigers hitters and gave up a hit, only recording one out. It went from a one run deficit to a three run deficit. The Pirates were lucky to only be down three thanks to Tony Watson coming in and not giving up a run with the bases loaded and only one out.
The question I have is why was Contreras the guy out of the pen there? The Pirates had just made it a one run game and he calls on probably the worst arm in the pen to face the heart of the Tigers order that included Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. OK, so Hurdle said that he didn't want to use anyone else in the pen too often but at what point do you pull the plug? Obviously a point where Contreras only throw 11 strikes in a 30 pitch inning.
I get the idea that you don't want to burn up your pen but in a game where the Pirates were really starting to feel it offensively only to call on your worst reliever with the heart of the Tigers order up. Then you let him go out there and completely erase what your offense was able to do the half inning before. Why is Contreras on this team? Why is he on the 25 man roster? Bryan Morris was sent to Indianapolis today and Contreras was left on the roster. I am not saying that Morris has been pitching great but lets no pretend like Conreras has done anything to warrant a roster spot other than being a "clubhouse" guy that Hurdle seems to love to have on the team.
The second play that really was tough came in the eighth inning. The Pirates fought back against the Tigers pen and thanks to a Russell Martin ground ball that was played into an error by Fielder and a Gaby Sanchez double put the Pirates only down 6-5. Josh Harrison, who was just called up today thanks to Jose Tabata going to the disabled list, pinch ran for Sanchez and then was picked off second base. I have no idea what Harrison was doing. Maybe he was trying to get a good secondary lead or maybe he was trying to take third base but as the tying run already in scoring position that would have scored pretty easily on a single I am not sure what he was in a hurry for.
It was a dumb play by Harrison but it was a mistake. These kind of things happen over the course of a season and while that doesn't absolve Harrison it just sucked this happened at a horrible time. As you all probably know I am not a big Harrison fan as he really doesn't bring a lot to the team and while I am no Alex Presley fan I think he might have been a better player to come in for the spot left by Tabata. Not really sure why it was Harrison but after it was all done he was out playing left field in a one run game. Just no ideal.
That being said the Hurdle decision with Contreras cost this team more than the Harrison mistake. I can see how someone else might think otherwise but Hurdle is always doing stuff like this and it is beyond frustrating. I don't think I need to get into my feelings towards Hurdle as an in game manager.
Snider had a nice game as he had three hits while Walker, Garrett Jones, and Sanchez all had two hits.
Francisco Liriano wasn't very good today. He again wasn't able to go six innings and today he just didn't have it. At times he looked really good and he got through three innings clean but the control just wasn't there for him today. It happens. I think he has been pretty good so far this season and hopefully he can bounce back.
Nothing more to say. This is a four game set against the Tigers so this is playing the way the other four games series have gone: lose the first game and win the next three. Hopefully that continues.