Saltalamacchia’s grand slam sinks Pirates
PITTSBURGH – Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached a home run milestone in a big way.
Saltalamacchia hit a grand slam for his 100th career homer, Shane Greene pitched six strong innings in his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery last August, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 Wednesday night.
Saltalamacchia connected off Arquimedes Caminero (0-2) with two outs in the sixth inning, hitting a drive into the right-field bleachers that enabled the Tigers to erase a 2-1 deficit. Detroit loaded the bases on a double by Miguel Cabrera, a walk to J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos’ single.
“It’s nice because it means you’ve been around awhile and have been able to produce,” Saltalamacchia said of reaching 100 homers. “The best thing about it, though, is that it helped us establish a lead.”
It was the second home run of the season for Saltalamacchia, a 10-year veteran who has taken over as the Tigers’ primary catcher after James McCann was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a sprained right ankle.
Greene (1-0) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in his first start of the season, which was delayed after the Tigers were rained out Sunday night against the New York Yankees. He struck out seven and walked three in helping Detroit win for the fifth time in seven games to start the season.
Like Saltamacchia, Greene kept the team-first approach.
“It means a lot,” Greene said of winning his first post-surgery start,” but we’re just trying to win ballgames.”
Greene recorded a save last Wednesday at Miami in his first regular-season appearance since having surgery to repair a damaged artery.
After giving up two runs in a 35-pitch first inning, Greene shut the Pirates down.
“He hadn’t started since spring training so he needed to knock some of the rust off,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “Once he did that, I thought he pitched very well. The thing about Shane is he is a mentally tough individual. He’s not going to let a bad inning bother him.”
Ian Kinsler hit a solo home run, his third, and drove in two runs for the Tigers, while J.D. Martinez and Anthony Gose each had two of Detroit’s 10 hits. Martinez extended his season-opening hitting streak to seven games and raised his batting average to .448.
The Pirates lost for the fourth time in five games since starting the season with four wins.
Ryan Vogelsong, 38, made a spot start for the Pirates in place of left-hander Francisco Liriano, who has a strained right hamstring, and gave up only one run and four hits in five innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
“I’m confident in what I do and what I can do and what I still have left in the tank,” Vogelsong said. “To me age is just a number.”
It marked the first time Vogelsong faced the Tigers since Game 3 of the 2012 World Series when he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the San Francisco Giants in a win at Detroit. The Giants swept the series in four games.
The only run off Vogelsong came on Kinsler’s leadoff homer in the fourth inning, a drive to straightaway center field that drew the Tigers within 2-1.
The Pirates’ runs off Greene came on a bases-loaded walk to Francisco Cervelli and a fielder’s choice grounder by Gregory Polanco. Andrew McCutchen’s RBI double in the eighth got Pittsburgh to 5-3.
The Tigers extended their lead to four runs with a two-run ninth as Kinsler hit a sacrifice fly and Martinez hit an RBI single off the glove of leaping second baseman Josh Harrison.
David Freese had two of the Pirates’ four hits.
Tigers: CF Cameron Maybin (broken right wrist), whose rehab assignment was moved from high Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, will be evaluated Saturday by team doctors. … RHP Alex Wilson (right rotator cuff capsulitis) pitched two-thirds of an inning for Toledo on Wednesday night and is scheduled to pitch again Thursday before being evaluated by team doctors Friday.
Pirates: Liriano said his hamstring was feeling better Wednesday and he is confident he will avoid a stint on the disabled list. … Reliever Jared Hughes (strained left lat) threw live batting practice Wednesday at extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla., and is getting closer to beginning a rehab assignment. … 3B Jung Ho Kang (recovering from reconstructive left knee surgery) is now running the bases without restriction at extended spring training. … Rookie C Elias Diaz (strained right elbow) will get a second opinion and there is concern he may need season-ending Tommy John ligament transplant surgery.
PIRATES DROP MORSE
The Pirates designated OF/1B Michael Morse for assignment before the game to clear a roster spot for reliever AJ Schugel, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis. Morse was 0-for-8 in six games this season.
Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 0.00 ERA) faces Gerrit Cole (0-1, 5.79) on Thursday in the finale of the two-game series. Signed to a five-year, $110-million contract as a free agent in the offseason, Zimmerman pitched seven shutout innings last Friday to beat the New York Yankees in his Tigers debut. Cole lost his season debut last Saturday at Cincinnati as he allowed three runs in 4 innings.