The Tigers have lost four straight and are 3-11 this month. The Pirates lost the first seven games of a road trip before taking two of three at Miami over the weekend.
Perhaps due to the divergent results over the weekend -- Detroit got swept by Cleveland -- the teams bring somewhat different outlooks into their series.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire lit into his club after Sunday's 8-0 loss to the Indians for what he saw as atypical lackadaisical play.
"It's the little things I talk about more than anything else and I talked to the club about it -- like not running balls out, little things which to me are unacceptable, we had a couple of those things happen," Gardenhire said.
"Those are the things I apologize for. That's not the way we play the game. We run balls out. (Sunday) wasn't one of those days. Whether it's getting beat down too many times in a row, I don't know. But we've got to fix this.
"We've had a lot of injuries and we are playing guys all over the field. We are overmatched a lot of times. That's part of the process here. ... But these guys give a flip. They care. They're in the big leagues, and I expect them to play like big-leaguers."
First baseman John Hicks said the message was received.
"He came in and talked to us like men," Hicks said. "And whenever he comes in and talks, obviously it's something he feels is important. We listen and we'll make the adjustments he wants us to make."
Pittsburgh seems more upbeat.
"Rough road trip, but we were able to finish on a high note going into the off day (Monday), and, hopefully, we can bounce back strong," Pirates first baseman Josh Bell told AT&T Sportsnet.
Right-hander Chris Archer, who started and got a no-decision Sunday against the Marlins, went further.
"Things will definitely start to turn," Archer said. "We've been playing some really good teams. We played Milwaukee and the Braves (during the road trip), who are top in the division. We as a pitching staff need to be a little better. Our offense is doing a great job, and it looks like it's starting to come together."
Pittsburgh seems close to getting some pitchers back from injury, but for Tuesday, rookie right-hander Mitch Keller (0-1, 15.43 ERA) is scheduled to face Detroit left-hander Daniel Norris (2-5, 4.52 ERA).
Keller will be making his third major league start. Opponents have hit .472 against him over his first two starts, both coming over the past few weeks as the Pirates needed a spot starter.
Wednesday, he gave up six runs and 10 hits, with two strikeouts and two walks, in three innings in a no-decision at Atlanta.
Norris' only career appearance against Pittsburgh was two innings of relief April 25, 2018. He allowed one run and two hits, with a walk and two strikeouts.
Wednesday at Kansas City, Norris got a no-decision when he gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, with six strikeouts and two walks.
--Field Level Media