Buckle up, Detroit Tigers fans. These next two games vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates might get a little bit chippy.
The Tigers and Pirates have been regular Central division interleague foes for some time now. Three of the five teams in the American League Central have an in-state National League Central counterpart they lock together with every season. The Tigers and the Minnesota Twins are the two teams that don’t have in-state rivals. The Twins get together with the Milwaukee Brewers every season, as their states border one another. So by process of elimination, that leaves the Tigers and Pirates.
Since the beginning of the 2009 season, the two ball clubs have played each other 27 times. During that time, Detroit is 13-14 against Pittsburgh, including 8-3 at the friendly confines of Comerica Park and 5-11 on the road at PNC Park, and have been outscored 100-87. For the most part, they have been pretty even. It seems every game is close and hard fought, including last night’s 14-inning marathon won by the Pirates.
There were four players hit by pitches in last night’s game. Three of them were Pirates, including superstar center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who has a history with being plunked. There did not appear to be any animosity between the two teams during the game, but one player who took exception was Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez.
Martinez was hit by Pirates starter Gerrit Cole in the 4th inning of last night’s game. It came after last night’s Tigers starter Justin Verlander hit Pirates outfielder Starling Marte with a pitch. Martinez not only believes that Cole hitting him was retaliation, but also went on to say some choice words about the Pirates players and coaches:
“Yeah, everyone knows that,” Martinez told 97.1-FM’s Jeff Riger when asked whether he thought the beaning was intentional. “I mean, I have no respect for no one on that team, including Cole and their coaching staff. If they think that (Justin) Verlander hit (Starling) Marte with a 1-2 count, he was battling that at-bat. If they really think we did it on purpose, they’re playing the wrong sport. Nothing else to say.”
These comments by Victor could certainly set the stage for the remainder of the series. Only way to find out is to tune in Wednesday night at 7:08 PM ET when the two teams square off in game two of the important home series for the Tigers.