The Detroit Tigers will have their top pitcher on the mound as they look to defeat the American League Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins for the third time in four games on Wednesday night.
Tarik Skubal (3-2, 2.44 ERA) hasn’t allowed an earned run in five of his nine starts this season. He’s the only member of the original starting five who isn’t on the injured list.
The left-hander held Cleveland to three runs and five hits in seven innings on Thursday after three consecutive scoreless outings. Skubal was struck in the shin by a line drive on May 20 but showed no ill effects from the bruise.
“Tarik’s maturing into a really, really confident pitcher in his own right, and when he has confidence, I have confidence,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.
Skubal’s worst start of the season came against Minnesota, when he gave up six runs (five earned) and seven hits in five innings on April 28.
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton has hit two home runs off Skubal in six career at-bats.
The Twins and Tigers split a doubleheader on Tuesday, with Minnesota winning the opener 8-2 and Detroit notching a 4-0 shutout in the nightcap. Detroit won the opener of the five-game series on Monday, 7-5.
The nightcap Tuesday marked the major league debut of Detroit’s Kody Clemens, son of longtime All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens. He went 0-for-3, striking out twice and drawing a walk. He played second base.
“It was his major league debut. Why wouldn’t you be happy? I thought he handled it nicely,” Hinch said. “His walk rate is higher in the big leagues than it’s been in the minor leagues. But he’s going to be back in there tomorrow. He’s going to play left field and hopefully gets that first knock (hit) out of the way.”
Detroit shortstop Javier Baez had two hits in the opener but went 0-for-4 in the nightcap. He was robbed of an extra-base hit by right fielder Trevor Larnach.
Baez, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, is batting just .197 with three home runs.
“This guy plays hard. He’s frustrated beyond anything that any fan or coach (feels),” Hinch said. “He wants to contribute, but he doesn’t quit on plays. I know the tension is always when he’s in the batter’s box, but the defense he’s playing. .. he plays hard. He’s not playing up to his expectations. He’s going to play better from a number’s standpoint, but Javy knows how to play.”
Right-hander Bailey Ober (1-1, 3.25 ERA) will get the starting nod for Minnesota on Wednesday. He exited after giving up three runs in three innings during his last outing on Friday against Kansas City. He faced Detroit on April 28 and was forced to leave during the fourth inning due to a groin strain that landed him on the injured list.
The Twins scored six runs in the first three innings of the opener on Tuesday, then were limited to two runs the rest of the day. They only had three hits in the nightcap.
“We really didn’t get anything going offensively,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Baldelli was glad he didn’t have to use many relievers in the doubleheader.
“It was a long day at the ballpark, and the guys grinded it out pretty good,” he said. “We wanted two wins, we got one, but I guess you live to fight another day. You show up tomorrow. We got through without having to use too much pitching, which is actually a good thing for what’s to come. So we’ll take that.”
–Field Level Media