Tigers settle for doubleheader split, Faedo limits damage against Pirates

Detroit News

Detroit — With three starting pitchers from the Opening Day roster on the injured list and a congested schedule the next couple weeks, the door was opened for one of the Tigers’ young arms to get his major league chance.

That opportunity came in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader and went to right-hander Alex Faedo, the 2017 first-round pick who made his long-awaited MLB debut against the Pirates.

“Obviously he’s a top prospect, high draft pick, unfortunate injury, feels like forever since he’s pitched,” manager AJ Hinch said of Faedo, whose climb to Detroit was stalled by Tommy John surgery in 2020.

“Opportunity knocks probably when you least expect it. I don’t know if he woke up (Tuesday) thinking that he was going to be considered to come to the big leagues.”

Faedo didn’t let the moment go to waste and largely did what he was asked to do in the spot start — throw strikes and give the Tigers a chance. He gave up two runs over five innings as the Tigers split the two-game set with a 7-2 loss.

Faedo, who wore No. 49, was greeted to the majors by Pittsburgh’s Ben Gamel, who ripped a 2-2 cutter down the line and into the right-field corner for a leadoff double. Faedo was able to pitch around the threat but it became a theme throughout his outing.

He gave up back-to-back singles to start the second, but he managed to escape by inducing a double-play ground ball and striking out Roberto Perez on an 85-mph slider for his first career punchout. Then in the third, Faedo once again gave up back-to-back singles as the Pirates put runners on the corners with no outs.

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Faedo was able to limit the damage to a run, getting another double-play ball and getting Michael Chavis to foul out to third with runners on second and third. The Pirates tacked on another run in the fourth, when Perez unloaded on a 92-mph fastball, launching it 418 feet into the left-field seats for a 2-0 lead.

By the time his day was over, Faedo scattered eight hits with one walk and a strikeout. He threw 76 pitches, including 53 for strikes, and his fastball touched 93 mph.

The Tigers didn’t let Faedo get saddled with the loss in his debut with a two-run fifth. Jeimer Candelario blasted a leadoff double off the right-field wall and scored on a bloop single by Eric Haase. Two batters later, Robbie Grossman tied it with an RBI double to left field that scored Derek Hill from first.

But the Tigers ultimately couldn’t send Faedo out in winning fashion as the bullpen hit a rough patch. In the seventh, Drew Hutchison gave up a walk and a double. Will Vest took over and threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, and gave up a sacrifice fly. That sequence allowed two runs to score.

Then in the ninth, Joe Jimenez was tagged for three runs on two hits and a walk, with the big blow coming on a two-run homer that Daniel Vogelbach sent into the right-field seats.

The Tigers had chance to pull even in the seventh but squandered it. After Miguel Cabrera knocked a two-out, seventh-inning single for his 3,005th career hit — moving him two hits away from tying Al Kaline on the MLB all-time hit list — and advanced to third on Austin Meadows’ double, Jonathan Schoop struck out swinging on three high fastballs.

In Game 1, the Tigers took advantage of a couple defensive miscues from the Pirates in the decisive fifth inning to come away with a 3-2 win. Trailing 2-0, Candelario hit a leadoff double to right center and Willi Castro reached on a fielding error by Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker, who bungled a grounder.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 3, Pirates 2

After Akil Baddoo drew a walk to load the bases with one out, Grossman drove in a run and advanced all the runners with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Javier Baez followed with a high chopper to third, but Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes whiffed on the ball and it trickled into left field, allowing Castro and Baddoo to score.

That proved to be enough offense for a Tigers’ attack that mustered just three hits, as the bullpen dominated over the final four innings and retired Pittsburgh’s final 14 batters in order. Jacob Barnes, Andrew Chafin and Michael Fulmer all pitched a clean inning of relief before Gregory Soto closed it out.

Starter Michael Pineda also held Pittsburgh under wraps over the first four innings and was backed by a pair of dazzling plays by shortstop Baez out of the infield shift. The highlight came in the third when Baez made a sliding play to knock down Bryan Reynolds’ hard grounder up the middle and did a no-look, between-the-legs glove flip to get the force out at second.

“I try to attack the hitter all the time and playing with a defensive guy like Javy makes me excited,” said Pineda, who gave up four hits and two runs with four strikeouts in 4⅓ innings. “I’m almost jumping on the mound. It’s exciting to see Javy make a play like that. The way that he plays, everybody loves it.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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