After a weekend in Cincinnati in which they stranded several runners on base and could only score a total of 8 runs, the Pittsburgh Pirates apparently left those struggles in the Queen City and got off to a fresh start in Detroit as their bats came alive in a 7-4 victory vs. the Tigers.

The Pirates also got 17 hits, which wasn’t a problem against the Reds. The problem was scoring, which the Pirates took care of on Monday, scoring almost as many runs in one game than they had the past 3 games. And what makes it even more impressive is that they got it done against a 2-time Cy Young award winner and AL MVP.

Justin Verlander used to be un-beatable (especially against the Pirates), but that was then and this is now. They beat up on the Tigers ace early and often, chasing him after only 4 innings and 111 pitches. Verlander gave up 7 runs and 10 hits and now has an ERA of 8.71. This marked the most runs that Verlander has ever given up against a National League team. Pirates SS Jordy Mercer’s bases-loaded single gave him 2 RBI and RF Gregory Polanco and C Francisco Cervelli each led with 3 hits, apiece. They also collected an RBI.

OF Matt Joyce, whom the Pirates signed in the offseason got his first start as the Designated Hitter and it certainly paid off. In his return to the American League where he played his entire MLB career, he went 2-4 with and knocked in the first run in the first inning. Joyce began his career with the Tigers in 2008 and played most of his career with the LA Angels.

Pirates 1B John Jaso, and Sean Rodriguez, who got the start at 3B also knocked in runs and 2b Josh Harrison scored 2 runs.

Another Pirates newcomer also made an impression as starter Jon Niese pitched well enough to earn his first win as a Pirate. Niese who is known as an innings-eater, paced the Pirates with 6 innings, 5 strikeouts and a walk. He also gave up 3 earned-runs, 2 off solo home runs-which isn’t so bad when the offense scores 7 runs.

Eventually Niese gave way to the Pirates bullpen and the tandem of Neftali Feliz, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon was marvelous as they combined to give up no runs, and 3 strikeouts in 3 innings. Melancon got the final 3 outs for his 3rd save.

The Pirates are now 5-2 after 7 games and will continue their 4-game series vs. the Tigers Tuesday when Juan Nicasio (1-0) will make his second start as a Pirate opposite Anibal Sanchez (1-0) the game will be another Matinee’ with a 1:10 pm start. The Tigers are now 3-2. This Interleague series will have the Pirates playing at Comerica Park Tuesday and then it will shift to PNC Park on Wednesday and Thursday.

So far, the Pirates pitching has been pretty good. It has kept them in most of the 7 games that they’ve played thus far, but what also balances it out is when the offense does their part. It’s a proven fact that they could easily be 6-1-or even 7-0 of they would’ve scored more runs, but you won’t hear the Pirates complaining about their 5-2 start.

Notes: Every Pirates starter got at least one hit… Cervelli is currently hitting .455…3B Jung Ho Kang, who is still rehabbing after severely injuring his knee in a collision at 2B late last season is progressing nicely and is ‘on schedule’ according to the Pirates. Kang is expected to join the club later in the month.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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