PITTSBURGH — The future of the Tigers lineup isn’t far off. Maybe not so much on the map, where Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene crushed home runs for Triple-A Toledo on the road in Iowa, a long way from PNC Park.
But the more the Tigers’ top two prospects slug for the Mud Hens, the easier it becomes to envision them hitting for Detroit at some point next season, maybe sooner than later. Games like Tuesday’s 3-2 Tigers loss to the Pirates make it evident where they could eventually help.
Six leadoff baserunners against Pittsburgh starter Dillon Peters and a procession of relievers yielded a lone scoring inning. Willi Castro’s leadoff walk in the third inning set up Derek Hill’s RBI triple. Hill scored on Robbie Grossman’s one-out single, giving the Tigers a lead that held until Ben Gamel’s go-ahead two-run single in the sixth off Alex Lange.
The Tigers left the bases loaded after their two runs in the third inning, and missed more chances as the game went on. The Tigers have been skilled recently at turning aggressive baserunning into offense, but the combination of traffic on base and the Pirates’ attention to Detroit’s running game left the Tigers going base to base more often than usual.
Halfway across the country, Torkelson — MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 overall prospect — hit his 26th home run of his first season of pro ball, across three levels of the Tigers farm system. His fifth homer in his last seven games for the Mud Hens was a loud drive to right-center off a lefty, putting Toledo in front in the third inning. Two innings later, Greene — ranked seventh on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 — homered to nearly the same spot, a two-run shot for his 21st homer of the year.