BOSTON — It looked for a minute there Wednesday night like the Tarik Skubal we saw in May and early June might be back. He was bullying hitters with his fastball and throwing just enough sliders and changeups to keep hitters honest.
Then came the third inning and things went haywire. Again.
Skubal didn’t survive the fifth inning and the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep of the Tigers with a 6-2 win at Fenway Park.
The Tigers’ lefty put down the first six hitters and had a 2-0 lead thanks to Javier Baez’s second homer in two games, a two-run shot over the Green Monster in the first inning. Skubal’s fastballs, especially his two-seamer, had a lot of zip, hitting 96 and 97 mph on the radar gun.
Everything was different in the third inning.
The velocity dropped and his command was spotty. Boston scored four times. Christian Vazquez and left-handed hitting Jarren Duran doubled and Rob Refsnyder blasted his first home run of the season.
Skubal also walked a pair in a 29-pitch third.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Refsnyder doubled and Skubal walked J.D. Martinez after a 10-pitch fight with one out in the fifth. Skubal's pitch count was climbing toward 90.
With runners at second and third and two outs, left-handed hitting Alex Verdugo, with what looked almost like an excuse-me swing, ladled one into left field, scoring both runs. That was symbolic of the night for Skubal. The Red Sox put 15 balls in play against him with an average exit velocity of 85 mph -- not a ton of hard contact.
Still, the final line was ugly: 4.2 innings, six hits, six runs, three walks, five strikeouts, 99 pitches. Skubal has now been tagged for 15 runs in 13.2 innings over his last three starts.
Baez’s homer, his sixth of the season, was all the damage the Tigers could do against Red Sox starter Michael Wacha. Baez, who also singled and walked against Wacha, extended his hitting streak to seven games. He is 11 for 27 with three doubles, a triple and three homers in that stretch.
The Tigers, who have lost nine of their last 11 games, are off Thursday before starting a three-game series in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks Friday.©2022 www.detroitnews.com. Visit at detroitnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.