Skubal deals, Cabrera clobbers HR as Tigers tank Twins 4-2 in Game 2 of twinbill sweep
Detroit — After beating the Twins in Game 1 Saturday, Matthew Boyd had some appointment viewing planned for the rest of his afternoon.
“They got the old F-150 in the first game,” Boyd said. “Now they're getting the Ferrari."
The Ferrari, rookie Tarik Skubal, was fast and sleek out of the gate, pumping 98-mph fastballs and mixing in sliders, change-ups and an occasional curveball. But the hero of the nightcap for the Tigers was a vintage, timeless Cadillac.
Miguel Cabrera launched his 482nd career home run, with a man on in the fifth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie with a man on and sending the Tigers to a 4-2 win and a doubleheader sweep of the defending Central Division champion Minnesota Twins.
"He's been one of those players and he is still one of those players," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's loud in the clubhouse, he's loud in the dugout, he gets guys laughing and that goes along with him being a great player.
"He's going to be in the Hall of Fame and he's still holding up pretty good."
Cabrera, who earlier in the day passed Charlie Gehringer for 50th place on the MLB all-time hits list, is now 10-for-21 with eight RBIs in his last six games.
"You look at him and every time he gets an RBI, every time he gets a hit, he's tying somebody or passing somebody on the all-time list," said Jeimer Candelario, whose two-run home run in the third put the Tigers up 2-1. "It's special playing with Miggy. He tries to have fun, if he's 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, he wants to get better and he wants to contribute to the team."
Cabrera's home run, on a 1-1 92-mph fastball from reliever Tyler Duffey, an opposite-field shot into the right-field seats, was his fifth of the season — the first since Aug. 8.
But the Ferrari looked sharp, too, picking up his first career win.
"Feels good," said Skubal, who was treated to what he called a socially distant beer shower in the clubhouse afterward. "I felt like I attacked them a little better, but I'm still working on it, still trying to get more consistent. But, yeah, I felt good today."
Skubal made two mistakes in five innings, and only one of those cost him a run.
That was a 2-0 change-up he left up and over the plate to Twins slugger Nelson Cruz in the fourth inning. That one landed in the left-field seats, 431-feet from home plate. Cruz hit one off Boyd in the first game, too. He now has 20 home runs at Comerica Park in his career.
The other mistake, a hanging slider on a 1-2 count to Miguel Sano in the same inning, ended up creating a highlight-reel catch by Victor Reyes. Reyes, getting the start in center field, raced his 6-5 frame 87 feet to the wall, reached over and stole a home run from Sano.
"Phenomenal catch," Skubal said. "I actually didn't think it was going to go that far."
Neither did Reyes.
"It was a windy day but I never thought that was going to be a home run," Reyes said through interpreter Carlos Guillen. "He hit it pretty good and it was Sano, he's very strong. I saw the wall and I thought I might be able to jump.
"I made a jump and I was able to catch it. Pretty good feeling."
Even starting center fielder JaCoby Jones, who has a few home run thefts on his resume, was impressed.
"JaCoby is always joking around with me," Reyes said. "But he congratulated me for that one."
Reyes, who had four hits in the first game, stole another hit from the Twins in the sixth inning, a diving catch after a long run on a sinking drive by Max Kepler.
"He's a player," Gardenhire said. "That's why we try to keep him in the lineup everyday. If he's not hitting, he makes great plays in the outfield. He never lets one affect the other. He just goes about his business."
Other than those two hangers, Skubal was solid. The five innings were his longest outing to date. He allowed two runs on three hits with no walks. He struck out two and had six swings-and-misses.
"He was impressive," Gardenhire said. "He was in control, he relaxed and used all his pitches. I thought (catcher Grayson) Greiner did a super job keeping him around the zone and making him use all his pitches.
"But you can see, he's got good stuff. He's got a good angle with his fastball and he's got the pitches. It's just about getting comfortable and grounded here in the big leagues."
The Twins nicked him in the second inning. Left-handed-hitting Eddie Rosario jumped a first-pitch breaking ball and lined a single to right. Sano followed with a hard-hit single to left field. Rosario tested Christin Stewart’s arm in left and easily beat the short throw to third base.
Marwin Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly before Skubal got Luis Arraez to ground into an inning-ending double-play.
Of his 70 pitches, Skubal threw 43 four-seam fastballs, with a velocity range of 91-98 mph.
"He's got some nasty stuff," Candelario said. "I'm excited to have him here. If he keeps developing he's going to be really good. I like him."
Jose Cisnero pitched a clean sixth inning and then Gregory Soto, in his first true save opportunity, got himself in a quick jam. A single by Cruz and a walk to Rosario put the tying runs on base, prompting a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson.
"He just told him to calm down and throw the ball over," Gardenhire said. "It was his first save chance and he couldn't find the plate."
But Soto settled down and induced Sano to bounce into a 5-4-3 double-play, then struck out Marwin Gonzalez looking at a 97-mph heater.
"First win for Skoobs and first big-league save for Soto," Gardnehire said. "Pretty cool."
The Tigers, now a game under .500 (15-16), have won four straight games and three straight series against playoff-contending teams – Indians, Cubs and Twins.
"The confidence level has gotten better since we won a couple of games in Cleveland," Gardenhire said. "That was huge. Getting rid of one streak and winning the series, we've just been feeling pretty good about ourselves since then."
They are 1.5 games out of a wild card spot, too, but Gardenhire wasn't ready to jump on that bandwagon just yet.
"Nah," he said. "We're just playing. We just want to win series. If you keep winning series you're going to be in the playoff race — you will give yourself a chance anyway."