The four-game home-and-home Interleague series between the Pirates and Tigers have been a battle between Pittsburgh's pitching and Detroit's hitters.
The edge thus far has gone to the Pittsburgh pitchers heading into Thursday's series wrap-up at PNC Park, as the Pirates look to take both games at home.
The Tigers lead the Majors in several offensive categories, but in the last two games against Pittsburgh, Detroit's hitters have been held at bay.
The Tigers opened with 10 hits, including three for extra bases, in a 6-5 win on Monday, but they have just 12 hits, two extra-base hits and three runs combined in losses on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Of course, it all starts with reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers' potent lineup. Cabrera is just 2-for-14 in the three games against the Pirates but broke his season-long four-game streak without an RBI with a two-run home run on Wednesday, his 15th of the season.
When asked if a certain approach to Cabrera had been discussed with Pirates pitchers, Pittsburgh manager Cint Hurdle said: "Absolutely."
"But that's all you're getting. This isn't a reality show. We're not telling all," Hurdle said. "We still have to play them -- and might play them again in the World Series."
Pirates: Locke looking to extend streak
Pittsburgh's Thursday starter, Jeff Locke, has won his last five decisions and looks to become the first Pirates pitcher to win six in a row since Zach Duke in 2006. Locke has lowered his ERA from 3.21 to 2.45 in his last four starts.
"[Locke] has pitched very well, biting off a little bit more with every opportunity," Hurdle said. "I like his mental approach, his mound presence."
Hurdle likes having Locke follow A.J. Burnett and precede Wandy Rodriguez in the Pirates' rotation.
"Younger pitchers probably have a better attention span the day before they pitch, especially with a chance to watch a guy with A.J.'s resume," Hurdle said. "It seems to be working out very well. Locke and Wandy are comparable, and I don't see that as a bad thing, especially when one goes out and pitches well and sets it up for the other."
Tigers: Fister on pace for odd record
Doug Fister will take the mound for the series finale against Pittsburgh looking to slow down his hit-by-pitches pace. Fister has 11 of them in his first 10 starts, while nobody else in the league has more than seven.
He's more than halfway to becoming the first Major League pitcher to hit 20 batters in a season since 2004 (Carlos Zambrano, Bronson Arroyo both had 20). If he doubles his total, he'd be the first big league hurler to hit 22 in a season since 1922.
Making things stranger, Fister has hit more batters than he has walked. Of the eight MLB pitchers to hit at least 20 in a season since World War II, only Arroyo has walked fewer than 69 in the process. Fister doesn't lose complete control of his pitches when he hits a batter.
"He likes to pitch inside," pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "He likes to throw a swingback, and sometimes, instead of getting inside the ball, he gets outside of the ball and it kind of stays there. "
"We've seen some oddities this year," Jones added. "[Justin] Verlander the other night threw an 89-mph fastball and a 90-mph slider in the same inning."
Fister is 1-2 in May, and his ERA has jumped from 2.38 to 3.65 this month.
• Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is 7-for-14 in the home-and-home series with the Tigers. He has now gone 9-for-21 with two doubles, a triple and two home runs in his last five games after having five extra-base hits through his first 33 games this season.
• Detroit pitching has struck out 40 Pirates hitters in the first three games. With 15 strikeouts on Monday and 14 on Tuesday, it marked the first time since at least 1916 that the Tigers have posted consecutive games with 14 or more strikeouts.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.