Another Tigers' starter down, another loss; Skubal drilled in leg by liner in 5th

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — Maybe Tarik Skubal is on to something.

Asked about the Tigers ruinous run of bad fortune — which he got his first taste of Friday night  — he shook his head and said:

"We might have to start lighting some sage or something, I don't know," he said. "It's pretty tough. There's a lot of weird stuff going on."

To say the least — sickness, COVID, injuries one after another. 

Skubal was the last uninjured member of the Tigers’ original starting rotation when he limped off the field after pitching five scoreless innings in Detroit's 6-1 loss to the Guardians of Cleveland Friday night at Progressive Field.

BOX SCORE: Guardians 6, Tigers 1

He was drilled in his left shin with a line drive struck with an exit velocity of 104 mph by left fielder Ernie Clement. The third out of the fifth inning was made off the carom and when Skubal finally got back to the dugout, he signaled to acting manager George Lombard that he was done.

"We will take it day by day and see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow," Skubal said. "But I'm very optimistic with what happened and where I got hit. I feel pretty good and I'm going to do everything I can to prepare to start in five days." 

That would be the first positive health news the Tigers got in a few weeks. If Skubal has to be shut down, he will join starters Eduardo Rodriguez (expected to go on the IL Sunday with soreness in his left side), Michael Pineda (finger), Matt Manning (shoulder), Tyler Alexander (elbow) and Casey Mize (elbow).

Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal kneels on the mound after being hit by a ball off the bat of Guardians' Ernie Clement during the fifth inning on Friday in Cleveland.

Spencer Turnbull, remember, has been out all year recovering from Tommy John surgery.

"It's difficult," said Lombard, filling in for AJ Hinch  who was ill (non-COVID) and  back at the hotel. "But when everyone signed that contract in there and in the coaches' room, no one said it was going to be easy. It's very difficult. But Alex Faedo is pitching tomorrow and we have to find a way to win tomorrow's game."

Before leaving, Skubal had shut the Guardians out over five innings, raising his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 19. The longest scoreless streak by a starting pitcher in the big leagues this season is 20. He’d allowed four hits.

"That's where my frustration came from," Skubal said. "I knew I was done pitching. I knew my night was over and I didn't want it to be over because I felt pretty good and I knew I had a lot more in the tank. 

"I felt I was in control of the game. All the outs were coming on the ground, which was exactly like I had planned. Just really unfortunate I had to come out of the game. And only after five innings, too. I put the bullpen in a bad situation." 

Right-hander Jacob Barnes took over a 0-0 game in the sixth and in four pitches gave up four runs.

On successive pitches, Austin Hedges doubled, Myles Straw and Amed Rosario singled and Jose Ramirez hit a three-run home run.

More: Tigers' top prospects Riley Greene, Ryan Kreidler raising eyebrows on road to return

Cleveland tacked on two more runs against reliever Jason Foley in the eighth -- back-to-back opposite-field doubles by right-handed hitters Myles Straw and Amed Rosario. 

Brutal turn of events for the Tigers, who have lost three straight.

Once the swelling goes down, Skubal will undergo a battery of diagnostic tests. 

"I feel like I got hit in a good spot," he said. "Hopefully it got more muscle than bone. We will find out in the morning, but I am optimistic. So there's that. At least something good came out of today."

The Tigers' frustration started before Skubal left.

They came into the game as the lowest run-producing team in baseball (2.81 runs per game). But they were facing against Guardians right-hander Aaron Civale, who had yielded more earned runs (27) than any pitcher in baseball.

You figured something might give. Nope.

Civale, who is now 7-0 in his career against the Tigers, shut them out for six innings, allowing two hits. It was his longest outing since last June. 

"He does a good job of competing," Lombard said. "He changes speeds on you, works the ball in, works the ball out. And the minute you start cheating to that little cutter he spins something soft off of it."

Civale left the game with one out and two on in the seventh. He was grabbing at the back of his left leg. He misplayed a ball by Jeimer Candelario and fell awkwardly as he tried to shuffle the ball to first base with his glove.

Henning: Tigers’ ills, ironically, invite a pitching debate

The Guardians announced it was a cramp in his glute. 

Spencer Torkelson, who had doubled in the second inning, hit a sacrifice fly to knock in the Tigers’ run.

The game was managed by bench coaches. While Lombard filled in for Hinch, DeMarlo Hale stepped in for Terry Francona who had a minor medical procedure done on Friday.

"A little anxiety," Lombard said. "It's a bit different than managing in the Gulf Coast League down in Florida. It's intense, but it's a lot of fun. I was telling the group in here, it doesn't matter if you win or lose; it only matters that you win.

"We came up short. I was excited for the moment but it's about us winning as a group."

Twitter: @cmccosky