Tigers turn to Tarik Skubal in opener vs. Twins

MLB

After handing Texas Rangers All-Star Kyle Gibson his first loss of the season, the Detroit Tigers will begin a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Tarik Skubal (5-7, 4.35 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA in his past seven starts for Detroit, will oppose fellow left-hander J.A. Happ (4-4, 6.09) in the opener of the final series before the All-Star break.

Considering the way the Tigers are playing lately, they probably would prefer to keep going instead of taking the four-day break for All-Star Game festivities in Denver.

The Tigers have won four of their past five series while earning a split against American League West-leading Houston in the other. Detroit is 6-2 in its past eight games after Wednesday’s 5-3 win over Gibson and the Rangers.

“It’s great,” Tigers starter Casey Mize said when asked about the vibe in Detroit’s dugout. “A lot of confidence. A lot of smiles. A lot of banter.”

“It’s an awesome clubhouse experience right now,” added Mize, the first overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Auburn. “Such a good group of guys, and we’re definitely playing good ball right now, and that makes it a little easier. Definitely a good group and try and keep this thing going.”

All-Star reliever Gregory Soto pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth on Wednesday to secure the first two-inning save of his career.

“Obviously Soto came in at the biggest leverage point in the game,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “To minimize the damage in the eighth and go back out after such an emotional inning and get the last three outs — just a huge performance.”

“This is what we talked about in spring training,” left fielder Robbie Grossman said. “Just coming to the field expecting to win every day. And these guys do. We come in expecting to win these series, and it shows on the field. … We’re playing really good baseball.”

Minnesota has won three of the five previous meetings between the two teams this season.

Skubal, who is 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four career starts against the Twins, picked up the loss in a 7-3 setback on May 7 despite allowing just two runs — solo homers by Jorge Polanco and Kyle Garlick — on four hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out eight.

Happ is 3-2 with a 4.97 ERA in 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Tigers. He received a no-decision in his only start against Detroit this season on April 6, allowing one run on three hits in four innings.

Minnesota has lost seven of its past nine games following a 6-1 setback to the first-place Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

Michael Pineda is considered a candidate to be dealt at the July 30 trade deadline because he is on an expiring contract. He gave up a career-high 12 hits and five runs over 5 1/3 innings in his first start since going on the injured list with right-elbow inflammation.

“I know the situation, but I’m not thinking about it,” Pineda said of being a potential trade candidate. “I don’t have control over that. I’m here. I’m a Minnesota Twins player. I want to focus on doing my job and helping my team to win the game, and whatever situation happens just happens.”

–Field Level Media

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