Detroit Tigers' offense humming with five home runs in 11-5 win over Pirates

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers picked up Saturday right where they left off late Friday night.

By scoring runs.

Following a four-hour, 33-minute slugfest ending in a 17-13 win Friday in the 11th inning, the Tigers' bats didn't cool off. Four of the first five batters in Saturday's game crushed home runs, leading to another high-scoring contest.

The Tigers (7-5) outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11-5, at PNC Park. This time, they did so behind a four-homer first inning, something the franchise hasn't accomplished since July 1974 with Al Kaline, Bill Freehan, Mickey Stanley and Ed Brinkman. 

Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, right celebrates with Jonathan Schoop after driving him in with a two-run home run in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh. This was the second of four home run Pirates starter Derek Holland gave in the Tigers five run first.

Detroit aims to sweep the three-game series at 1:35 p.m. Sunday. Right-hander Spencer Turnbull, the team's best starter with a 2.45 ERA, starts against Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove.

First-inning sluggers

The first inning began with a 93 mph fastball from left-hander Derek Holland to leadoff-man Niko Goodrum. The next pitch — a similar offering — went soaring into the left-field seats for a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers followed with home runs Miguel Cabrera (two-run), C.J. Cron (solo) and Jeimer Candelario (solo) for a 5-0 lead. Cabrera's 481st long ball gave him two RBIs, pushing him to 1,700 in his career and past Jim Thome (1,699) for 24th-most in MLB history.

"We've got people that, you know, your table setters and all those guys, line drive plays pretty good," manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday about finding consistency between power and contact. "And then when you got the guys that can bop it, put crooked numbers up there with one swing, that's something we really didn't do much of last year, really didn't have those people. But we do now."

Tigers starter Ivan Nova pitches against the Pirates in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

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Within Holland's first 11 throws, Goodrum (375 feet), Cron (404) and Candelario (437) homered on pitches above 90 mph, while Cabrera pulled an 82 mph curveball 351-feet to left. The home runs traveled a combined 1,567 feet. 

More runs

Through two innings, Holland gave up six runs on nine hits and one walk. He needed 64 pitches to get through those frames. But as the Pirates gave him five runs to work with, Holland cruised in the third, fourth and fifth.

The veteran returned for the sixth, already over 100 pitches. Once again, the Tigers teed off. 

Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario, right, rounds the bases past Pirates pitcher Derek Holland with a home run in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

JaCoby Jones hit his fourth homer of the year for a 7-5 lead. Consecutive doubles by Goodrum and Jonathan Schoop made it a three-run edge and chased Holland. He ended with 112 pitches (73 strikes): 43 in the first, 21 in the second, 20 in the third, eight in the fourth, 10 in the fifth and 10 in the sixth before getting pulled. Nick Mears replaced him and gave up a sacrifice fly to Cabrera.

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Mears loaded the bases but he only surrendered one additional run on a walk to Grayson Greiner. 

Tigers center fielder JaCoby Jones circles the bases on a solo home run against the Pirates during the sixth inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

Gimme five

Right-hander Ivan Nova retired six of the first seven Pirates but collided into a roadblock in the third and fourth innings. He gave up five runs and allowed Pittsburgh to claw within one run, but he walked back out for the fifth and got out Gregory Polanco, Bryan Reynolds and Phillip Evans in order.

Using 76 pitches (48 strikes), Nova allowed five runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

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Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold