The Pirates traveled north to Detroit to open a four-game home and home against the Tigers. Due to a Tigers snowout yesterday, the Pirates get to face Justin Verlander this afternoon at 1:10PM.
What first comes to mind when I think Verlander against the Pirates in his near no-hitter on May 18, 2012. I was in attendance that night at Comerica Park and watched as Verlander dominated the Bucs punchless lineup for eight no-hit innings. Josh Harrison broke up Verlander’s no-hitter with one out in the ninth. It was the only bright spot in a 6-0 loss that night.
Verlander is not the same pitcher he was that night. Injuries and a decline in his performance has led him to a middle of the road pitcher these days. He only had 133 innings in 2015, his first time under 200 innings since his rookie year in 2006. Some say his girlfriend Kate Upton is to blame while others say being on the wrong side of 30 has led to his decline. Either way, Verlander is hoping this year is a rebound year, and the Tigers hope the same as their AL Central title chances may depend on it.
The Pirates will hopefully get back on track in Mo Town after losing a close series to the Reds this weekend. Hurdle got a little creative with the DH option involved in the lineup today, inserting Matt Joyce in the three hole as the DH. Also, Sean Rodriguez makes his first start of the season, giving Freese the day off. Jon Niese will take the mound for the Buccos in his second start of the season. Here’s the North Shore Nine for today’s game: