Going into their weekend series starting Friday at PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers will be looking for something scarce to come by lately.
That would be a win for the Pirates — and a game of any sort for the Tigers.
Pittsburgh ended a seven-game losing streak Thursday with a 6-5 walk-off win over the Minnesota Twins.
Detroit was off Thursday. Again.
The Tigers haven’t played since getting swept in a doubleheader Sunday at home against Cincinnati. Detroit got an unexpected hiatus that was anything but its doing.
The Tigers were scheduled to hold a home-and-home series with St. Louis, two games in each city, but all four games were postponed after the Cardinals had a COVID-19 outbreak.
That gave Detroit a chance to hold a couple of workouts reminiscent of training camp, though the Tigers’ rotation got thrown into a bit of disarray despite pitchers getting an extra side session and the team holding live batting practice Wednesday and Thursday during its extra workouts.
“It’s different,” Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd (0-1, 7.20 ERA), who is scheduled to pitch in the series opener Friday in Pittsburgh against right-hander Chad Kuhl (0-0, 1.80 ERA), told the Detroit website. “Not usually are you given four days in the middle of the year. But we’re going to use it to our advantage.
“It’s like spring training. … We’re making the most of it, and it’s fun. You’d rather be playing baseball (games), but this is the hand that we’re dealt right now, so we’re just rolling with it.”
Boyd is the only starter whose spot was determined as of Thursday, although Ivan Nova and Spencer Turnbull are penciled in for Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“The problem there is that if you take one guy whose turn was coming up and then you put him in the back, it’s a lot of days (off),” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Boyd is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh.
Kuhl will be making his first start since September 2018 after he underwent Tommy John surgery.
In his first two appearances this year, he followed Steven Brault in a piggyback situation. Pirates manager Derek Shelton did not divulge whether Friday would be another piggyback night but with the roles reversed, although he did allow that “we said all along when we were going back and forth with those guys that we would mix up the starts of how they were doing it. We just felt it was a good opportunity (Friday) for Chad to start.”
Sunday, Kuhl left his outing against the Cubs after two innings because of a problem with the index finger on his pitching hand, where the nail cut into the cuticle, but that problem has apparently resolved.
“The first inning of my Cubs outing, it was probably the best I’ve felt since surgery,” Kuhl said, adding he hopes to pitch at least four innings against the Tigers.
“I feel like the breaking balls are there. I lost a little bit of fastball command in that second inning (of work) just from my finger bleeding. We had a little tough stretch there. I feel really good about the way I’ve thrown the ball and how I’ve bounced back, recovery-wise.”
Kuhl has won all three of his career starts against Detroit, with a 5.09 ERA.
–Field Level Media