With the Twins presently desperate to cling to their tenuous hold on the first-place position in the AL Central, and a pretty dismal pitching staff to keep them there, they turned to Aaron Sanchez to start off the series against the Tigers. And with trade rumors circling around pretty much every half-decent player on the Tigers’ roster, this felt like potentially the last time we might see some of these men take the field in a Detroit uniform.
Tarik Skubal, a name who was mentioned more than once in some trade discussion, though more in the context of “we’d even deal Skubal!” rather than “Skubal will be a key trade piece in any Tigers deal” took the mound and reminded us just why he’s one of the few exciting players this team has left. If, in a genuinely surprising move, the Tigers actually do trade him, it will be a real bummer for the shape of Detroit’s future pitching rotation.
Anyway, Skubal v. Sanchez was tonight’s matchup, and Skubal was decidedly the one to beat.
Sanchez gave up a two-out single to Harold Castro in the first inning, but no runs scored, and in the bottom of the inning Skubal had himself a nice 1-2-3 inning.
Candelario got a leadoff walk in the second, then a one-out Willi Castro single to deep right got Candy all the way to third. A Barnhart groundout brought Candelario home, and put the Tigers on the board early on. In the bottom of the inning Skubal’s only misstep was a two-out Urshela single.
Sanchez had his one three-up-three-down outing in the third, and while Skubal had some minor struggles with a Polanco double and a walk to Correa, he kept the damage limited to baserunners and no actual scoring plays.
In the top of the fourth, Cabrera drew a leadoff walk, then with two outs Willi Castro was hit by a pitch to put two men aboard. It was a mistake that would quickly come back to haunt the Twins, as a Barnhart single brought Cabrera in to score, and giving Barnhart a little trade target gleam perhaps as a potential backup catcher for a playoff contender. In the bottom of the inning Miranda got a leadoff walk, but the inning would ultimately end on a double play.
A Reyes double was the only Tigers offensive production in the fifth. In the bottom half, Gordon got a single, then Skubal quickly got two outs. Gordon took off for second, and when Skubal tried to throw the ball back to second he overthrew with a pitching error, letting Gordon advance to third, but thankfully no runs scored.
Top of the sixth was uneventful for the Tigers. Aaaaand if we want to start speculating wildly, Skubal was pulled after a mere five innings of work and line of 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K on only 77 pitches, soooooo... Anyway, that said Will Vest came on and had a really great bottom of the inning.
Also, no need to panic.
Source: The #Tigers have not traded Tarik Skubal. Explanation should be coming shortly.— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) August 2, 2022
The Tigers quickly went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, then Joe Jimenez came on for the Tigers in the bottom of the inning. He gave up one double to Gordon, but a Riley Greene superhuman catch was a big help to Jimenez keeping things scoreless.
Officially left arm fatigue was the reason for pulling Skubal, btw.
The Tigers had a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, then turned things over to Michael Fulmer (and much speculation over whether or not this was Fulmer’s last appearance as a Tiger). Well, if this outing was his audition to be traded, it didn’t go so great. Polanco got a one-out single, then Correa singled, and an Arraez single loaded the bases. Miranda then singled to score Polanco and Correa, tying the score and chasing Fulmer from the game. Fulmer looked visibly upset in the dugout, so I’m not sure what happened with him in the game. Soto came out to end the inning without any further runs scoring.
With a nice (if short) outing from Skubal now show, the Tigers headed into the top of the ninth hoping to regain the lead. They did not. In the bottom of the inning things didn’t go the Tigers’ way either, as Gordon got an infield single, but ran inside the line on the grass and got hit by Soto’s throw to first. It did not get ruled in the Tigers’ favor. Sanchez then singled to put two men on and a runner in scoring position for a walk-off. Riley Greene continues to be very good at catching baseballs. Correa walked, but Gordon advanced a bit too far off third and got tagged out. Big sigh of relief.
Onward to extras. A flyout by Haase got Castro to third base. An Akil Baddoo single then scored Castro to give the Tigers the lead. Down into the bottom of the tenth and it was turned over to Lange to keep the Tigers lead protected. Unfortunately a Miranda single scored ghost-runner Correa, and an Urshela home run was a walk-off winner for the Twins.
Final: Twins 5, Tigers 3