It would be easy to sit and say that the Detroit Tigers’ success against Michael Pineda was simply from seeing him for the second time this season.
After all, Pineda carved up the Tigers on April 28 at Comerica Park, throwing six innings, and giving up two runs on four hits while striking out nine batters.
On Saturday, it was quite the opposite. He got hit and hit hard. The rookie right-hander had perhaps his worst outing of his brief career, allowing a six runs on eight hits and making it just 5 1/3 innings in an 8-1 loss to the Tigers.
So obviously it was the benefit of seeing him once this season.
Maybe, maybe not.
The Pineda that the Tigers saw on Saturday was nothing like the Pineda they saw on April 28.
The Pineda of the first meeting was a strike-throwing machine with a fastball in the mid 90s that seemed to have an extra life on it, along with a slider that could be pinpointed and thrown in any situation.
The Pineda of the most recent meeting was all over the place. His fastball was inconsistent in command and life, his slider didn’t have that precision location, and his changeup – a work in progress all season – was pretty mediocre at best.
“The hitters were seeing the ball great,” Pineda said. “In the first three innings, I threw a lot of fastballs up. It’s different than my first time. The first time my fastball was down in the zone.”
But Pineda wouldn’t just pack it in because he couldn’t locate his pitches. He kept trying to fight his way through the order. He held the Tigers scoreless for the next three innings into the sixth.
“It’s very important to compete in the game,” he said. “Whenever something happens, compete.”
That attitude was more than pleasing to Wedge. It even brought a smile to the manager’s face on a night when there wasn’t much to be happy with.
“He battled back and was better for a little while there,” Wedge said. “It’s so important. You want to find out a starting pitcher, you take a good look at them when they don’t have their best stuff or they are a little off and how they handle it.”