'He came in hot': Tigers' Tarik Skubal starts strong before exiting early vs. Rays

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — You understand the rationale behind the shortened starts. With limited work in the pandemic-truncated 2020 season, workloads have to be managed carefully this season and both Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal have quadrupled their innings over last year.

But, man, it would’ve been fun to see Skubal keep pitching on Sunday.

"Yeah, he was great," manager AJ Hinch said. 

Tigers starter Tarik Skubal came out firing Sunday against the Rays.

Skubal breezed through his three innings on 49 pitches, striking out six Rays hitters. He allowed two baserunners, a walk to Taylor Walls and a single to Randy Arozarena. He mixed all his pitches, but his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, both averaging 95.5 mph and topping out at 98, and hard slider did most o the work.

"He came in hot and we like that," Hinch said. "That was one of his best fastball days in a while. I think the last start bothered him a little bit."

More: 'There's been a turning of the culture here': Relentless Tigers outlast Rays in 11 innings, 8-7

The Pirates jumped Skubal earlier in the week. Kevin Newman, the second hitter of the game, blasting a two-run homer. 

"I think he took it personal and went into his work and got into the game better today," Hinch said.

Skubal has struck out at least four hitters in 22 straight outings, which is the most by a rookie in the expansion era.

He ended the first inning with a four-pitch strikeout of the ever-dangerous Nelson Cruz. Skubal threw a slider and change-up to start the at-bat, then threw a 96 four-seamer by him and froze him with a 98-mph four-seamer painted on the inside corner.


Jose Urena, on his 30th birthday, followed with three more strong innings, allowing only a solo homer to Nelson Cruz.

"We couldn't have drawn it up any better," Hinch said. "It was like getting a starter to the seventh inning."

Communication issue

It's been a rough stretch for the Tigers outfielders. Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill, who had  horrific collision earlier this season, miscommunicated on a ball in the first game of the series, which fell in for a hit.

Baddoo lost a ball in the lights on Saturday night.  And Sunday, he and right-fielder Victor Reyes miscommunication on a ball in the ninth inning, a ball that Baddoo dropped for a two-base error.

"It's miscommunication," Hinch said. "We need to clean that up. Those are outs that we are giving away. It's key for us to communicate much better. Those guys have been here most of the year. 

"Those are mental lapses that we can clean up."

The error by Baddoo didn't cost the Tigers a run Sunday.

Around the horn

Hill pinch-ran and scored a big run with a belly-flop slide in the eighth inning Sunday. But he's been held out of the lineup the last two games because of sore ribs. He'd originally bruised his ribs in the collision with Baddoo and reaggravated it Friday making an diving attempt on a two-run double by Jordan Luplow.

... Jose Cisnero has given up seven runs in his last two outings, including four in the eighth Sunday. Hinch said he thought Cisnero's body was looking fatigued, that he wasn't firing off the mound like he has most of the season. 

... Jeimer Candelario's 10th-inning home run was the third game-tying, extra-inning homer with the Tigers down to their last strike since at least 1916.


Twitter: @cmccosky