Tigers win second straight, but Pineda leaves with broken finger

Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers turned four double-plays, got 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief pitching including a bounce-back effort from closer Gregory Soto, got timely home runs from Eric Haase and Willi Castro, got two more hits from a surging Miguel Cabrera and beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-0 Saturday, winning back-to-back games for the first time since April 21-23.

And still there was a bit of a pall hanging over the clubhouse afterward because yet another starting pitcher is headed for the injured list.

Michael Pineda was knocked out of the game after just four batters, drilled in the right hand by a line drive that left the bat of Ramon Urias with an exit velocity of 106 mph. Afterward, manager AJ Hinch announced that x-rays confirmed a fracture in the right middle finger.

“He’s going to go through a battery of tests and see a couple of experts,” Hinch said. “We’ll see how long it takes him to heal. It’s disappointing news to say the least.”

Hinch said it was too soon to know if surgery will be required and Pineda is expected to be examined by the Tigers’ hand specialist in Tampa on Monday. But that’s four starting pitchers down now — Pineda joining Casey Mize (elbow), Matt Manning (shoulder) and Tyler Alexander (elbow).

“Those guys are really important for the team,” said veteran right-hander Wily Peralta, who came in cold and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings. “We need them. It’s a tough situation. I know they’re really competitive guys and they want to be going out there every five days.

“This is a tough situation for us, but it’s something you can’t control. Just try to play good and whenever you get the ball, do your job.”

Peralta, who finished last season in the Tigers rotation, has allowed just one run with 15 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings out of the bullpen this season. He said he was ready and willing to step into the rotation if needed.

Rookie Alex Faedo, who will start Monday in Tampa, could slide into the rotation. In Toledo, both Joey Wentz and Elvin Rodriguez would be options, as would non-roster veteran Chase Anderson.

Hinch, though, wasn’t ready to commit to any plan so soon after the injury to Pineda.

“We’re going to need some help,” he said. “We’re going to need guys to step up. It’s an opportunity for somebody. You hate to look at it that way because that means somebody had to either falter performance-wise or something happened health-wise.

“But we’ll have someone ready to start.”

Manning is expected to make one more rehab start at Toledo. Hinch was asked if he could make that start at the big-league level.

“We will make the best decision for Matty,” he said. “We need to make sure he’s good. It might feel better to write his name on a card but if he’s not ready to compete at this level and go deeper into games, you can start chasing your tail a little bit.”

Peralta was appearing in his 239th big-league game and he’d never before had to come in cold in the first inning like that.

“That’s a situation you don’t expect,” he said. “You have to just lock in right away. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that, warming up on the (game) mound like that. It’s a little bit different but I had a job to do.”

Peralta got eight outs. Right-hander Jason Foley, just recalled from Toledo, pitched two scoreless innings. Then Joe Jimenez, Andrew Chafin and Soto got the last nine outs, allowing just two hits.

“Incredible effort by the bullpen, to a man,” Hinch said. “We needed a lot of guys to be good to get through this game and everybody just got in line. It was a gutsy performance by the pen.”

BOX SCORE: Tigers 3, Orioles 0

The Tigers played stellar defense all day, too, turning four double-plays. They’ve turned 14 double-plays on ground balls in the last 13 games.

Before the game Hinch said the double-play balls were nice but he’d prefer the runners not get on base in the first place. Afterward he smiled when that was brought up.

“It’s nice to get them when you need them, though,” he said.

Robbie Grossman, too, made two harder-than-they-looked plays in right field, both against Trey Mancini. Twice Mancini hit screamers directly over Grossman’s head — the first left his bat at 103 mph, the other at 101. Both times Grossman read them expertly and made the catch on the track.

The Tigers didn’t generate a ton of offense against Orioles lefty starter Bruce Zimmermann, but it had to feel good to see a couple of balls leave the yard.

“Our guys are good hitters now,” Hinch said. “They didn’t do well in the first month but these guys have track records. Guys can hit.”

Jonathan Schoop led off the second with a double into the corner in left and took third on a misplay by left fielder Ryan McKenna. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Castro.

MORE: Might there be some gold (gloves) in Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson’s future?

Then with one out in the fifth, Haase lined a 90-mph sinker just over the fence in left-center. It was his second homer of the season, his first since Opening Day.

Castro knocked Zimmermann out of the game in the seventh, leading off with his first home run of the season. He jumped a first-pitch slider and lined it into the Tigers bullpen in left. Castro’s last big-league homer came last Aug. 19.

“He was throwing me that pitch the whole day,” Castro said. “I had to wait for that once.”

Castro, hitting .333 on the season, has emerged as a spark plug these past two weeks.

“He’s so energetic,” Hinch said. “He can really help you win, the more versatile he is. I think the time in the outfield has lifted the burden mentally to just go out and play free. We don’t expect him to be perfect. He might make a mistake or two, but he’s certainly playing with some freedom.”

As, finally, are the Tigers as a whole.

“This is part of baseball,” Castro said. “You are losing or you are winning. We come out here and we don’t remember about the bad days or the bad games we’ve had. We just focus on getting a win for now.”

Seems like a healthy approach.

Twitter@cmccosky

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