A rather shaky outing from Tarik Skubal led to defeat on Friday night as the bats were held down by Chris Sale and the Red Sox bullpen. A Triston Casas three-run homer was the difference in the contest as the Red Sox won by a 5-2 score.
The Tigers went quickly in the first, with both Andy Ibáñez and Spencer Torkelson getting a good look at healthy Chris Sale and striking out. Rob Refsnyder led off the bottom half for the Red Sox and reached on a ground ball to Javier Báez that the shortstop threw off target. Rafael Devers pulled a ground ball through the right side of the infield, and the Red Sox were in business right away.
Skubal struck out Adam Duvall after falling behind 2-0, the latter a developing theme of the left-hander’s outing. Masataka Yoshida grounded out, but Refsnyder scored to make it 1-0 Boston.
The Tigers went quietly in the second inning, and Skubal faced the minimum as well, but only after allowing a leadoff single to Alex Verdugo and then having Báez make a diving stop on a Pablo Reyes ground ball and from the ground, flip the ball from his glove to Ibáñez, who turned it over for a 6-4-3 double play.
Skubal continued to miss his mark too often in the third, but was able to pitch around a Connor Wong single and a walk to Duvall. Meanwhile the Tigers’ offense was sleepwalking through the first four innings as Sale looked excellent in his return from the IL.
Skubal’s outing finally came unraveled in the fourth. Trevor Story led off with a single, but a Verdugo ground ball forced Story at second. No matter, as Pablo Reyes lined a single and then Skubal fell behind Triston Casas 1-0 and threw a meatball of a slider right over the middle. Casas crushed it to right, and it was 4-0 Red Sox.
Finally in the fifth, with two outs, Kerry Carpenter got a Sale slider over the plate and hammered it deep to right center field for his 13th homer of the year. Báez took a slider off the sole of his left cleat, and Sale’s day was done. It’s a good thing he was planned to have a short outing.
With that home run tonight by Kerry Carpenter, he earns the most random stat of them all. Most home runs by a Tigers draft pick after the 14th round. pic.twitter.com/qRUO6NFI7v— Rogelio Castillo (@rogcastbaseball) August 12, 2023
Kyle Barraclough took over and promptly walked Zack Short, and that convinced AJ Hinch to pinch-hit Riley Greene in for Eric Haase, who started in left field. Greene lined a single to right, and Báez scored to make it 2-0. Unfortunately that’s all they’d get, though having Greene back in center field on what had been a scheduled off day would pay dividends defensively as well.
Skubal walked Duvall with one out in the bottom half of the fifth, but another nice double play turn from Báez ended the inning. Torkelson was hit on the backside by a slow breaking ball with one out in the sixth, but that went nowhere as Jake Rogers flew out and Miguel Cabrera struck out on a foul tip.
Story singled to open the bottom half of the sixth and then stole second base. Skubal punched out Verdugo, but that was his last hitter as Will Vest, freshly returned from the injured list, took over. Vest got Reyes to line out to center, with Story tagging and moving to third on the play. The Tigers intentionally walked Casas, but Wong grounded one through the right side of the infield to score Story and make it 5-2 Boston.
Chris Murphy took over for Boston in the top of the seventh. He quickly got ground outs from Carpenter and Báez. Short drew a walk, but Greene flew out to left to end the inning.
Brendan White got the call in the bottom of the seventh, taking over from Vest. The Tigers have missed Will Vest, particularly with Alex Lange lost out there, so hopefully he can get back up to speed quickly.
White walked Duvall as his first hitter, which wasn’t ideal, but he bounced back to carve up Yoshida with some well located fastballs. Story drilled a deep shot to center field, but Riley Greene ran it down. Hinch switched to lefty Andrew Vasquez against Verdugo and he flew out to Carpenter to end the inning.
The Tigers were running out of outs in the eighth as Matt Vierling grounded out and McKinstry flew out to left field. Spencer Torkelson locked into a good 13-pitch battle with lefty Chris Murphy, only to get jobbed by home plate umpire Jim Wolf on a breaking zone that was never anywhere near the strike zone.
Anyway, Vasquez allowed a lead off single to Reyes in the bottom half, but bounced back to carve up Casas, Wong, and Jarren Duran, all swinging to send this to the ninth.
Alex Cora stuck with Murphy, and he punched out Jake Rogers to start the inning. Cabrera got rung up on a changeup away and out of the zone, though not as egregious as the Torkelson call. Kerry Carpenter worked a walk, but that left it up to Báez and let’s just say expectations were not high. The shortstop struck out on a high fastball, and that was that.
Once again, the Tigers win three in a row, but can’t sustain a real streak. Maybe they’ll start a new one tomorrow as Matt Manning takes on Bryan Bello at 4:10 p.m. ET on Saturday.