Oh well, I kinda liked Derek Holland.
Holland’s career has seen considerable variance, based heavily on his HR rate. We saw that in a microcosm today, as Holland accomplished something I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen before. Four of the game’s first five batters went deep on him. Niko Goodrum, BOOM! Jonathan Schoop single. Then Miguel Cabrera, C.J. Cron, Jeimer Candelario, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The Tigers had a 5-0 lead and Ben & Derek’s Comedy Revue was already on its way to an 11-5 loss and a 3-12 record.
Holland kinda settled down after that. He got hit hard in the second, but it amounted to just three singles and one run. He threw scoreless innings from the third through the fifth. Going into the sixth, he was over 100 pitches so obviously it was time for him to come out. Or not. Derek Shelton decided the team needed more innings and got exactly zero. JaCoby Jones led off with a bomb, then two doubles followed.
That brought in Nick Mears for his major league debut, less than two years after he signed as a non-drafted free agent. It could have been better, but considering that Mears has thrown only 50 professional innings, only five above class A, it wasn’t disastrous. Not Miguel Del Pozo disastrous, anyway. Mears’ first batter, Cabrera, popped up down the right field line. Gregory Polanco caught the ball in foul territory, but collided with first baseman Phillip Evans on the play. The runner on second came around to score and Evans left on a stretcher. Mears then loaded the bases on a single and two walks. He got a strikeout and went to a full count on Grayson Greiner, but walked in the run. He fanned Jones to end the inning. Mears threw 33 pitches, 17 for strikes.
Before Shelton left Holland in too long, the Pirates had actually gotten back into the game. Facing Ivan Nova — which is funny, because their lineup most of the season has looked like nine Ivan Novas — they got two in the third. After singles by Jarrod Dyson — who’s now above the Dyson Line — and Jacob Stallings, Kevin Newman doubled in one run and Josh Bell drove in the other with a grounder.
The Pirates made it 6-5 in the fourth. Nova uncharacteristically walked the first two hitters and Dyson singled in one run. A wild pitch scored a second run and Newman’s two-out single drove in a third.
Detroit’s four-run sixth inning made it a 10-5 game. They got another run in the seventh when Sam Howard, after fanning the first two hitters, gave up back-to-back doubles to Cabrera and Cron.
The Pirates got a scoreless inning from Yacksel Rios. Then — because 15 pitchers aren’t enough, especially with a likely three-day break coming up — they got another one from backup catcher John Ryan Murphy, who threw one of the best relief innings the Pirates have seen all season.
The Pirates themselves managed only a walk and three singles over the game’s last five innings. Newman had four hits. Of the 3-4-5 hitters, Bell went 0-for-4, Polanco 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, and Bryan Reynolds 0-for-3 with a walk.