Game two of a four-game series between the Rangers and Tigers in Detroit was delayed a couple of hours due to thunderstorms in the area. That didn’t matter to the Tigers, though. They won their fifth straight game with a 4-1 victory built on fantastic pitching, good defense, and some solid, but mostly unspectacular, hitting to gradually add enough runs for a rather comfortable victory despite the score.
The pitching matchup was Dane Dunning for the Texans and Tarik Skubal for the Michiganders. Dunning, a former Florida Gator, came up with the White Sox last year and had seven starts, posted a sub-4.00 ERA, and a 1.118 ERA. He’d missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, something about which Tiger fans are thinking more these days. His 2021 so far has been a little more up-and-down, with a 1.443 WHIP and a 4.22 ERA in 17 starts coming into tonight.
Skubal, of course, is going to eventually have his innings limited this season, but not at the same time that Casey Mize is going to have his limited (i.e., now). In 16 starts and two relief appearances, Skubal’s ERA coming into tonight was 4.36, with a 1.376 WHIP. His last outing was during that lousy series in Minnesota just before the All-Star Break, and... well... it wasn’t so hot. But that’s ancient history.
Skubal was a little shaky in the first, with an Eli White double and an Adolis Garcia single putting runners on the corners with one out. The dangerous Joey Gallo popped out to Short at short, and Adolis Garcia found himself picked off first base. White broke for home and was thrown out. Garcia could not have been feeling good about this one, folks.
Robbie Grossman opened the scoring with a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the first.
The rain delay can’t stop Robbie Grossman! pic.twitter.com/qrdOHra7z7— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 21, 2021
Skubal settled down quite a bit, especially in the third, as he only needed six pitches to record three outs. He struck out a pair in the fourth, including Gallo on a 96 mph sinker. The Tigers defense was strong, particularly at the corners. Dunning wasn’t doing too badly, either, despite having a fastball that only topped-out in the low-90s. Through four innings both pitchers had only given up two hits.
In the fifth, Nate Lowe singled and Andy Ibanez doubled, scoring Lowe and tying the game at 1. It was the first run Texas had scored since Saturday; in the meantime they got badly shut out in a doubleheader on Sunday against the Blue Jays, then got blown out Monday night in Detroit.
Eric Haase got that run right back with a solo shot that got out in a hurry.
Also, consider this:
Eric Haase has 14 home runs this season. Only needs one more to match Brandon Dixon's 2019 team-best of 15— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) July 21, 2021
Hittin’ Harold Castro got on with a single after the Haase homer, and then after a flyout and a walk, Dunning’s day was done. He was on a pitch count, and was lifted with two out in the fifth after throwing 72 pitches (49 for strikes), in favour of flame-thrower Josh Sborz; more on him below. Jonathan Schoop eventually singled Castro in, to make the score 3-1.
Hittin’ Harold was at it again in the sixth; after a Jeimer Candelario double, he served a single to left to drive in Candelario and make it a 4-1 game.
Our watches all struck Funk O’Clock in the seventh, and on came Kyle Funkhouser: strikeout, groundout, strikeout, love it. You can set your watch by this guy.
José Cisnero’s eighth: groundout, groundout, swinging strikeout. Since May 13, he’s given up three earned runs.
On came Gregory Soto for the save. Touching triple-digits, he struck out the side, and that was the game.
Game #3 of the series is Wednesday night at 7:10 pm EDT. Can the Tigers extend their winning streak to a half-dozen? We will see.
Spin Rates and Sticky Stuff
I do enjoy a good graph.
Baseballs aren’t spinning the way they used to. Specifically, spin rates on fastballs have fallen about 4% since Major League Baseball increased scrutiny on the application of prohibited sticky substances.— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 19, 2021
Here's what else has changed. https://t.co/b18jZP4NAh
It’s Nice when they Lend a Hand, But...
...don’t get hurt, fellas!
AWFUL rains in Binghamton to end the night.— Matt Sabados (@SabadosSports) July 21, 2021
But Spencer Torkelson and Dillon Dingler each went out to help pull tarp as the Binghamton crew had a tough time.
Class-A guys pic.twitter.com/nzmlXHq0Ch
Notes and Numbers
- Since moving to the leadoff spot on June 23, Akil “Mr. Excitement” Baddoo was slashing .293/.338/.453 for a .791 OPS coming into tonight.
- If Josh Sborz’s name sounded familiar, he’s the younger brother of Jay Sborz. Jay was drafted by the Tigers in 2003; his lone major-league appearance was with Detroit on June 22, 2010. He pitched 2⁄3 of an inning and gave up 5 runs. He hit the first two batters he faced, but hey, he struck a guy out. (It was the opposing pitcher on a foul bunt attempt, but it still goes in the books as a whiff, and is one more strikeout than either you or me ever got in the big leagues.)
- The Tigers’ winning percentage by month this year... April, .296; May, .519; June, .519; July, .571 (before tonight’s victory).
- Congrats to the new NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.
- If you haven’t been following the news, Jeff Bezos went to the edge of space today, with three other passengers, in his Blue Origin rocket. On this date in 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around for a while and then coming home... allegedly.