In the rubber match from Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers built a surprising lead and were able to stave off a ninth inning comeback by the Indians to take home a 7-4 victory.
Tarik Skubal took on Carlos Carrasco in his second major league start, and while he again wasn’t able to eat innings, showcased an impressive fastball that dominated most Cleveland hitters. The offense woke up for a complete performance, tallying 13 hits and three home runs, making for one of the better all around victories of the season. The Tigers ended another streak on Sunday as well, snapping a series losing streak of seven to Cleveland that dated all the way back to September of 2018.
Just as he did in his major league debut, Skubal allowed a lead off home run to start his outing. Cesar Hernandez got ahold of a 2-2 96 MPH fastball right down broadway for his first homer of the season, a ball that just carried over the fence in center field. Unlike his debut, Skubal’s response was quite impressive. Although his pitch count was high causing him to only last 2 1⁄3 innings, he showed many flashes of the dominance that made him the top pitching prospect that he is.
For the day, he struck out five hitters, gave up three hits, walked one, and hit one while only allowing one run. Four of his five strikeouts came on his fastball, which sat around 94-95 MPH once again, and topped out at 97 MPH. His high fastball above the zone had the Cleveland hitters swinging out of their shoes and not being able to catch up to it. While he didn’t really have command of any of his off speed pitches, he threw a couple really good change ups and sliders, two pitches that could take him to the top of a rotation should he find consistency with them.
Daniel Norris piggybacked with Skubal and once again looked extremely impressive in relief, in his 3 2⁄3 innings, Norris didn’t give up any runs while striking out four, walking none, and allowing only two hits. Brought in to clean up a third inning jam as Skubal departed, Norris shut Cleveland down to escape and settled in quickly from there on out. His fastball sat between 92-94 MPH again, occasionally touching 95. After struggling to get his velocity up in recent years while battling a lingering groin injury, he’s put together a stretch of three straight outings where he’s not only in command of the fastball, but is also able to sustain the velocity he once featured in 2016.
After only three hits on Saturday, the Tigers offense had a really nice showing on Sunday afternoon. Victor Reyes led off the game with a double, and then some small ball from Willi Castro moved him over to third via a sacrifice bunt. Miguel Cabrera followed with a text book sacrifice fly to center field to plate the first run of the before Skubal took the mound. In the fourth inning, the Tigers chased Carrasco from the game with two home runs courtesy of Niko Goodrum and Jorge Bonifacio, his first hit for the Tigers, to take a 4-1 lead.
The Tigers got some runs from an unlikely source in the sixth inning, with Grayson Greiner delivering fans in the Detroit area curly fries by hitting the team’s third home run of the day, an absolute cannon shot off the bat to deep left field. At 112.1 MPH, it was the hardest hit ball of Greiner’s career.
Name a 90's band whose name also applies to @ggreiner21's home run.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 23, 2020
NO DOUBT pic.twitter.com/n8wn7s4jXv
They weren’t done with the inning though, as Cabrera added his second RBI of the game, a single to right field that gave the Tigers a 6-1 lead. With his sixth inning RBI, Cabrera tied Adrian Beltré for 21st in MLB history with 1,707 career runs batted in. Given his lengthy and legendary career, every hit from Cabrera now seems to mean that he’s reaching another milestone.
In the eighth inning Castro added his second hit of the day, an RBI single on a ground ball to left field that put the Tigers up 7-1. It was a good day for quite a few Tigers at the plate, most notably the young Isaac Paredes who went 3-4 with a double. Every single starter for the Tigers had at least one hit.
Despite the it not being a close game for most of the afternoon, the back end of the bullpen got some much needed work. Coming off a rough stretch, Gregory Soto took the seventh inning and was back to his dominant ways, going one-two-three on 9 pitches with a strikeout. Buck Farmer was similarly good, sitting Cleveland down in order with a strikeout.
For an afternoon that featured very little drama, Joe Jimenez did his best to inject as much as possible in the the third of an inning that he pitched. In the ninth, Jimenez walked the first two batters he faced and then gave up a three-run homer to Greg Allen, a player with a batting average of .143 and no home runs on the season. Jimenez continues to look like he has no business protecting leads, let alone closing tight ball games. Thankfully, Ron Gardenhire was not messing around and brought in Jose Cisnero to shut the door and cap off the victory.
Monday night the Tigers start a series against the Cubs at Comerica Park on 7 p.m. Casey Mize (0-0, 6.23 ERA) will make his second major league start taking on Alec Mills (2-2, 4.76 ERA).