Chad Kuhl took to a more self-help approach Tuesday night when the pitcher corralled his first career RBIs, helping push Pittsburgh (56-57) to a 6-3 win over Detroit (51-61), sweeping their AL Central rival in a mini-two game series.
The Pirates remain 4.5 games behind Chicago for first place in the NL Central, pending a west coast start late night for the Cubs in San Francisco.
Kuhl is now 1-0 in three starts against AL teams this season, going a combined 17 innings giving up just five combined earned runs.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Kuhl, who has been one of the more effective starters for the Pirates when facing a never-before-seen lineup. “I’ve just seen the Reds for the first time and now (Detroit) for the first time. I’m not sure what it is, but it is just fun. Playing baseball, going against a new team that you’ve never seen before. It’s just fun.”
The righty tossed six innings of five hit, three earned run baseball—surrendering all three in the sixth inning—while striking out six and walking just one batter.
“Velocity played early. Slider/curveball combination played for him early,” said Clint Hurdle of Kuhl. “When it got to some push counts he threw strikes and he made pitches. It was a good mix off the mound for him.”
Kuhl’s productive hitting came into play in the 4th inning, when an excuse-me bloop sailed just over the head of shortstop of Andrew Romine scoring Freese and Rodriguez, giving the Pirates a 4-0 advantage while notching the pitcher’s first two career RBIs.
“I was selling out to a heater,” said the natural offensive machine. “I got the slow curveball and I was fortunate enough to lock in. I got it again and stayed on it just a little better the second time.”
The precocious sophomore received joined a cavalcade of offensive producers, as the Bucs corralled a team-total of 10 hits with David Freese and Andrew McCutchen tallying multi-hit nights. Cutch’s solo blast in the 4thinning off of starter Matthew Boyd—his first to right-center on the year—marked his 23rd of the season.
“Being selective, that’s what it’s all about,” said McCutchen about working Boyd. “Staying to yourself. Work the count and try to take what is given to us. It’s been a good two games for us and we look forward to going to Detroit and taking two more.”
Jose Osuna marked the lone starter to stay hitless as Boyd was bashed around to the tune of five earned runs on nine hits in just four innings of work, while having to throw 80 pitches.
“Things are clicking right now,” said Freese, who batted cleanup Tuesday night, going 22-of-61 (.268) in his last 17 starts. “We’re not trying to, kind of, sit on what we are doing. We are not really focused on doing that. We understand that and we are feeling pretty good.”
The Pirates are now 5-1 in their last six games.
After the moneyline
The Bucs came in heavy -180 chalk favorites, keeping their camp feeling secure for much of the game. The total, which was set at 8.5 runs, went over for the third time in six games.
The Pirates will now swap cities to face the Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit for the first of a two-game set Wednesday night. Ivan Nova (10-8, 3.66) will tow the bump for the Bucs, squaring off against Justin Verlander (7-7, 4.20). First pitch is set for 7:10.