Alex Faedo is trying not to get ahead of himself.
Having two years basically taken away from him — first by the COVID-19 pandemic, the second by Tommy John surgery on his right elbow — has taught the Detroit Tigers rookie pitcher a thing or two about patience.
So even as he breezed through five innings on 82 pitches in what eventually became a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the 26-year-old didn't try to talk manager A.J. Hinch into letting him take the mound in the sixth.
The Tigers have a plan for their 2017 first-round pick. It includes meticulously making sure he doesn't overdo it, no matter how simple he's made it look during his first seven starts. That meant Faedo's day was long over before Miguel Cabrera's go-ahead RBI single in the eighth.
Given the results — both in the game and in his progress — it's a tradeoff Faedo will take.
"Whatever (the Tigers) think is best for me, I trust them," Faedo said. "I can only control what I can control, so whenever I'm on the mound, I'm going to try to compete as hard as I can and try to execute as much as I can. Anything besides that is out of my control."
Faedo surrendered just one run — Jack Suwinski's leadoff home run in the fourth — on three hits before exiting. It's become a pattern. He has gone at least five innings and given up two runs or less in each of his first seven major league starts. Only two other pitchers have begun their careers with those types of numbers per the Elias Sports Bureau.
While Faedo admitted his family has been blowing up his phone with each promising start, he's trying to keep things in perspective.
"I think for me it just lets me know that I've been consistent and giving these guys a chance to win," he said.
Faedo and four relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Tigers took a quick two-game interleague set from the Pirates.
Harold Castro led off the eighth with a single off Wil Crowe (2-3) and Jonathan Schoop followed with a bloop single to shallow center that Pittsburgh's Bryan Reynolds appeared to track down. Replays showed that Reynolds trapped the ball. Cabrera stepped in and delivered a sharp single up the middle for his 3,038th career hit to score Castro from second.
Schoop and Austin Meadows had two hits apiece for Detroit. Daz Cameron drove in two runs, the first with an RBI triple in the second and the second with an RBI double in the ninth to provide a little insurance for the Tigers, who bounced back after getting swept by the New York Yankees by taking two taut games from the Pirates in less than 16 hours.
Detroit weathered a rain delay of over two hours to pull out a 5-3 victory on Tuesday. The Tigers kept it going in Wednesday's matinee to win for the seventh time in 11 games.
Will Vest (1-1) earned the win with a perfect seventh inning. Gregory Soto worked out of a two-out, two-on jam in the ninth to collect his 12th save.
Suwinski's home run gave him seven on the season, tops among National League rookies, but the Pirates' offense mustered little else.
"(Faedo) has some good pitches," Suwinski said. "With his over-the-top delivery, it's kind of deceiving for some of those breaking balls that are down. That changeup can run away. The heater can play up as well with that over-the-top. He's got some pretty good stuff."
The rebuilding Tigers are banking on it.
ANOTHER STEP FOR KELLER
Pirates starter Mitch Keller put together his second straight solid start after returning to the rotation following a brief stint working out of the bullpen.
The 26-year-old gave up Cameron's triple off the Clemente Wall in the second but otherwise kept Detroit in check, limiting the Tigers to four hits in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts to trim his ERA to 5.26.
Keller called his time in the bullpen a chance to hit the reset button.
"It's a lot more of just throwing your nasty stuff more and trying to get guys out whatever way possible," Keller said. "I think just shifting that mindset ... has helped me a lot."
Tigers: OF Robbie Grossman (strained neck) homered in a rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night. ... LHP Tyler Alexander (left elbow strain) threw two scoreless innings in the same game.
Pirates: RHP Heath Hembree (right calf strain) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Tigers: Are off Thursday before beginning a 10-game homestand on Friday when Toronto visits for a three-game series.
Pirates: Begin an eight-game road trip on Thursday when they visit Atlanta. J.T. Brubaker (0-5, 4.70 ERA) faces Max Fried (5-2, 2.74) in the opener.
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