Neil Walker homered to break a scoreless tie in the eleventh inning and the Bucs pitched their way to a thrilling 1-0 victory in Detroit on Tuesday night.
Just like everybody expected, the Jeanmar Gomez vs. Rick Porcello matchup turned in to an epic pitchers’ duel. Porcello looked brilliant and had all his pitches working and moving all over the place, while the Bucs remained stuck in a strikeout funk (12, 15, and 14 in the last three games). He rolled through eight shutout innings with hardly any threats from the Bucs – they managed just three hits and one walk against him.
Meanwhile, Gomez didn’t rack up strikeouts but made up for it with absolutely ridiculous efficiency. He threw just 73 pitches in seven innings and also allowed just three hits and one walk. Gomez had been impressive before this start but truly stated his case to stay in the rotation on Tuesday – it was his first outing beyond five innings and it was his first outing against a challenging lineup (the Tigers entered the game with the most runs in MLB this year). Incredible stuff from the righty who was brought in as a total afterthought.
Justin Wilson tossed two strong innings (working around a nearly catastrophic Clint Barmes error and a scary flyout to the track) to get the Bucs to extras, and Mark Melancon posted a zero in the tenth. The Bucs were still doing nothing against the Tiger bullpen until Walker came up in the eleventh and smashed a Jose Ortega pitch to deep right for his third homer, completing an excellent road trip at the plate for Neil.
Jason Grilli still had to get three outs, though, and while that’s normally a foregone conclusion at this point, he faced what might be his toughest save assignment of the year. With just a one run lead, Torii Hunter was set to lead off, followed by the best hitter in the world Miguel Cabrera and then the extremely dangerous Prince Fielder. Grilli casually struck out all three, making Cabrera look foolish and then winning a great battle with Fielder with some high and inside heat. You won’t see a more impressive inning by a relief pitcher anywhere all season, and that’s not an exaggeration. Grilli’s now 21/21 in saves and while it’s not news to us that he’s totally awesome, this may have been something of a statement inning for him.
Excellent win for the Bucs – one of their most exciting of the year, probably – and it was their third 1-0 victory in less than two weeks. They’ll take a split of the two games in Detroit and now head home to face the Tigers two more times at PNC.
The game was delayed over an hour due to rain.
Porcello struck out a career high 11 – more than he struck out in the entire month of April.
Melancon issued a walk. It was his second walk of the season. It’s May 29.
The Bucs are 6-0 in Gomez’s starts.
Pirates 1, Tigers 0 / Box / 2013 Record: 32-20 / Next: Wednesday, vs. Tigers, 7:05