Detroit Tigers rookie Alex Faedo completed five innings, allowed one run, struck out seven batters and did everything he was supposed to do in Wednesday’s series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And the Tigers’ bats came up with a couple of late-inning runs for a 3-1 win over the Pirates to complete the two-game sweep at PNC Park. The Tigers (23-33) grabbed the lead in the eighth inning on Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single.
“It’s 3,000-plus hits,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters in Pittsburgh. “He’s incredible with those big moments. He doesn’t try to do too much. He hits the ball hard and got rewarded for it. He’s an incredible hitter to this day because he plays the game.”
Following Faedo’s strong start, the Tigers covered the final four innings with four relievers posting zeros on the scoreboard: Andrew Chafin in the sixth inning, Will Vest in the seventh, Michael Fulmer in the eighth and Gregory Soto in the ninth.
DEBUTING SOON?:Riley Greene ‘excited’ to be back, nearing MLB debut
It was Soto’s 12th save of the season.
Pittsburgh’s offense finished with four hits, three walks and 13 strikeouts.
Soto put runners on the corners with two outs, but after a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, he ended the game when Cal Mitchell struck out swinging at a 101.3 mph fastball.
“It’s just nice to have so many options,” Hinch said. “Guys can come and answer the bell.”
Shortstop Javier Báez, who signed a six-year, $140 million contract in December, struck out swinging three times against Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller. All three strikeouts were on down-and-away sliders.
Báez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
He is hitting .200 with three home runs in 45 games, despite back-to-back two-hit games Sunday and Tuesday when the Tigers faced left-handed starting pitchers. He hasn’t homered since May 22.
Keller, who entered Wednesday with a 5.77 ERA, matched Faedo’s efforts. He fired six innings of one-run ball, lowering his ERA to 5.26, on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
In the first inning, the Tigers put runners on first and second base for Báez with two outs. He struck out swinging on an 88.3 mph slider that traveled into the left side of the batter’s box.
Báez had a chance to redeem himself in the third, as Austin Meadows drilled a two-out double into right field. Once again, Báez struck out swinging on an 88.5 mph slider in the dirt.
Facing Keller again, Báez struck out swinging on an 87.7 mph slider in the sixth inning.
He showed up for his final plate appearance in the eighth inning but grounded into an inning-ending double play against right-hander Chris Stratton’s slider.
The Tigers scored their first run in the second inning.
Spencer Torkelson worked a leadoff walk, and although the next two batters were retired, Daz Cameron salvaged the inning with a two-strike RBI triple to right-center field for a 1-0 lead.
“He’s coming up big with two outs,” Hinch said. “We had a couple two-out hits that were big. I like how he’s using the opposite field. He’s got a lot of power that way. When the ball gets away from him, he can do some damage.”
After Keller exited, right-handed reliever Will Crowe struck out the side — Kody Clemens, Eric Haase and Cameron — in the seventh inning. Crowe returned for the eighth, and the Tigers were ready for him.
Singles from Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop set the table for Miguel Cabrera, who lined an RBI single into center field for a 2-1 advantage. Cabrera is hitting .297 in 48 games this season.
Cameron found himself in another two-strike count in the ninth inning, this time against Stratton. Haase singled with two outs to give the Tigers an opportunity for an add-on run.
Once again, Cameron capitalized.
“When you pick a good pitch,” Hinch said, “and stay within yourself, the game can reward you when you hit the ball hard.”
He sprayed a full-count fastball into the right-field corner for an RBI double and a 3-1 lead. The 25-year-old is hitting .333 with three doubles, one triple and one home run in his past seven games.
Cameron, Meadows and Schoop paced the Tigers’ offense with two-hit performances. Three other players had one hit: Cabrera (eighth inning), Castro (eighth inning) and Haase (ninth inning).
The Tigers recorded nine hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
Faedo’s finest hour
Along with giving the Tigers a chance to win, Faedo etched his name in the history books again.
He has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his first seven starts, becoming the third pitcher to do so since 1901. The others: Jered Weaver in 2006 and Dave Ferriss in 1945.
“It’s nice to see him continue to put up good outings,” Hinch said.
The 26-year-old allowed one run to the Pirates on three hits and one walk across five innings, throwing 54 of 82 pitches for strikes. He notched two strikeouts in the first inning, two in the second and three in the third.
In the third, Faedo gave up consecutive one-out singles to Yu Chang and Michael Perez. He bounced back with consecutive strikeouts, sending down Ke’Bryan Hayes (swinging, 92.7 mph fastball) and Bryan Reynolds (looking, 91.9 mph fastball).
The Pirates scored their only run off Faedo in the fourth, as Jack Suwinski belted an 0-2 changeup for a solo home run to right-center field. The next three batters were sent down in order.
“He was really good early,” Hinch said. “Once they tied the game, I love how he responded to not having the lead anymore. He hung in there, stayed there, won some big at-bats. He had plenty left in the tank when I took him out.”
For his 82 pitches, Faedo tossed 47 fastballs (57%), 26 sliders (32%) and nine changeups (11%). He earned 17 swings and misses — six fastballs, nine sliders, two changeups — and 10 called strikes.
His fastball averaged 91.8 mph.