Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch walked to the base of the dugout stairs to greet right-hander Alex Faedo. They shook hands, signifying Faedo’s MLB debut was complete after five innings.
Not long after, the Tigers scored their first two runs to tie the game.
But the Tigers lost to the Pirates, 7-2, in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, as the Pirates plated the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. In his first big-league start, Faedo — called up from Toledo to serve as the roster’s 27th player — allowed two runs.
The Tigers (8-15) split the doubleheader and the two-game series at Comerica Park, after a 3-2 victory in Game 1.
“The first game (of the doubleheader) was a pretty quick game,” Faedo said, “but for me, it felt like it was taking forever. I just wanted to get out there. Once I got out there, it was a lot of fun.”
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In Game 2, the big moment occurred in the seventh inning.
After Faedo’s five frames, Hinch needed his bullpen to cover the final four innings. Right-hander Drew Hutchison pitched a scoreless sixth but failed to record an out in the seventh.
Hutchison put two runners in scoring position, and Hinch called for right-hander Will Vest to clean up the mess. His third pitch — a slider — skipped past catcher Eric Haase and was deemed a wild pitch.
The mistake scored Ben Gamel from third base, putting the Pirates ahead 3-2. On the next pitch, Vest drilled Ke’Bryan Hayes with a 93.7 mph fastball to the hand for a free pass to first base. The Pirates tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly from Daniel Vogelbach for a 4-2 advantage.
“We just didn’t get away with the walks at the end of the game,” Hinch said. “They made us pay a little bit.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Jonathan Schoop’s strikeout against right-handed reliever Chris Stratton stranded Miguel Cabrera and Austin Meadows in scoring position.
Schoop is hitting .136 with three walks and 18 strikeouts in 22 games.
“It’s not a work problem,” Hinch said. “It’s not a recognition problem. It’s just a production problem right now. He’ll fight through it. He’s been through it before. … Better pitches to hit is going to be key. We need Jonathan to get going.”
Vest returned for a scoreless eighth inning.
Righty Joe Jiménez allowed three runs in the ninth, including a two-run home run from Vogelbach.
Alex the acceptable
Faedo, the No. 18 overall draft pick in 2017, conceded two runs on eight hits and one walk with one strikeout against the Pirates.
The Tigers promoted the 26-year-old from Triple-A because of his ability to throw strikes.
He did just that in Game 2, tossing 53 of 76 pitches for strikes.
“They took advantage of some missed pitches,” Faedo said. “I got to keep executing. It’s the name of the game. Hitters are going to do more damage when you miss over the middle of the plate, so I just got to be a little better at staying on the corners.”
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Gamel, the first batter Faedo faced, doubled to the right-field corner. Faedo worked his way out of the jam with three consecutive outs, receiving defensive help from first baseman Spencer Torkelson’s diving stop and shortstop Javier Báez’s sliding back-handed pick.
To end the second, Faedo struck out Roberto Perez swinging with an 85.2 mph slider for his first MLB strikeout.
“They played a hell of a game today,” Faedo said of his defense. “They played a really good game out there. I felt like I was complimenting them every other pitch. They did great.”
The Pirates found the scoreboard in the third, as Jake Marisnick and Gamel opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Marisnick put a slider into center field; Gamel sent a fastball into left field.
Marisnick scored for a 1-0 Pirates lead on Bryan Reynolds’ double-play groundout. The double play, from Schoop to Báez to Torkelson, emptied the bases with two outs.
But the Pirates weren’t done.
Hayes worked a seven-pitch walk, and Vogelbach followed by hammering a first-pitch fastball for a double. After a visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, Faedo retired the next batter, Michael Chavis, on four pitches to strand two in scoring position.
“I thought he hung in there,” Hinch said. “I think he had some anxious moments in the beginning. He really wanted the game to start, but that’s to be expected of a guy with his journey. I was proud of him. I think he threw the ball effectively. He hung in there and gave us a chance to win.”
In the fourth, Perez smoked Faedo’s 92.9 mph four-seamer over the wall in left-center for a solo home run. His 418-foot blast — with a 109.8 mph exit velocity — increased the Pirates’ edge to two runs with two outs.
Faedo finished the fourth and worked around a one-out double from Reynolds in the fifth to conclude his outing.
For his 76 pitches (53 strikes), Faedo used 28 four-seam fastballs (37%), 14 changeups (18%), 12 cutters (16%), 12 sinkers (16%) and 10 sliders (13%). The Pirates averaged a 91.7 mph exit velocity, meaning they made plenty of hard contact.
“He looked good,” Haase said. “He was a little upset he didn’t have his sharpest stuff tonight, up to his standards. But he pitched his (expletive) off and he kept us in the ball game.”
Faedo posted three swings and misses: one four-seamer and two sliders. He had 14 called strikes, including nine with his slider. He logged at least one called strike with all five of his pitches.
His fastball averaged 92.2 mph.
Tigers find their bats
Pirates starter José Quintana, a left-hander, held the Tigers to one hit until the fifth inning, when Jeimer Candelario cranked a leadoff double to right field. He came around to score on an RBI single from Eric Haase.
“He needs to see hits,” Hinch said of Candelario. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to solve some of the frustrations that are going on offensively. It’s just production.”
Two batters later, Robbie Grossman clubbed a double to left field. He plated the speedy Derek Hill — who reached on a forceout — from first base to tie the game, 2-2.
The double from Grossman came with one out, leavingan opportunity to pile on runs; Quintana received a mound visit from his pitching coach but stayed on the mound.
Detroit’s next three batters — Báez, Cabrera and Meadows — couldn’t get it done, though, with a flyout to center field, intentional walk and a groundout to second base.
Quintana gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts, tossing 45 of 77 pitches for strikes. He four-seamer generated all six of his swings and misses, while he landed all his secondary pitches for multiple called strikes.
The Tigers finished with eight hits and two walks in Game 2. They had three hits and two walks in Game 1. The Pirates, however, finished with five hits and two walks in Game 1 and nine hits and five walks in Game 2.
Pittsburgh committed five defensive errors: three in Game 1 and two in Game 2.