Neither the Pittsburgh Pirates nor the visiting Detroit Tigers have a lot to play for in their current series, at least in terms of 2021 implications. Both are far out of postseason contention, and neither can play a spoiler role in the three games.
Still, they find motivation where they can. In the series opener Monday, the Pirates dug deeper, snapping a six-game losing streak with a 6-3 win.
“Whether we’re winning or losing, we’re going to come out and play as hard as we can and try to put together good at-bats and play as good as we can on defense,” Pittsburgh third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run Monday, told AT&T Sportsnet.
“We just preach (to) come in every day with a clean, fresh slate and just play hard.”
Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman, who homered Monday, added that the club focuses on attitude and outlook as much as baseball skills.
“It’s something that we work really hard on — trying to pick teammates up and make all the plays that we can,” Newman said.
Monday’s game was the start of the Pirates’ longest homestand of the year, nine games in 11 days.
The Tigers, who have lost eight of their past 12, couldn’t hold a one-run lead Monday.
Detroit found out Monday it would be short-handed because of COVID-19 issues. Reliever Joe Jimenez and bench coach George Lombard tested positive for the virus after feeling symptoms Sunday night, despite both being fully vaccinated.
They will be quarantined for at least 10 days.
Because of contact tracing, pitching coach Chris Fetter, quality control coach Josh Paul and bullpen catcher Jeremy Carroll are away from the team through this series and for the Tigers’ next series.
“We’ve got to take care of their health first and then worry about the return to play and coach,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said.
On Tuesday, Detroit right-hander Wily Peralta (3-3, 3.68 ERA) is expected to start. The Pirates have not named a starter, although it seems like a possibility that left-hander Dillon Peters (0-2, 3.07) could come off the injured list to start. Peters has missed the minimum 10 days due to a lower back strain.
Peralta has just one decision, a loss Aug. 21 at Toronto, in his past six starts. He recorded a 5.27 ERA in that stretch.
Peralta came off the IL, having recovered from a finger blister, for an outing Wednesday against the Oakland A’s. He gave up three runs, two of them earned, and four hits in four innings, with one walk and two strikeouts.
“He had a hard time executing his split(-fingered fastball),” Hinch said. “I don’t think 10 days off helped him. He had to be a little careful with his throwing program in that time off. He was throwing with a Band-Aid on and never quite got the feel for the split like he normally does.
“He got his pitch count up, so I wanted to be careful after the long layoff, but it’s nice to have him back in the rotation. I feel good about him going into his next start.”
Peralta is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in eight career games, seven of them starts, against Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media