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Tigers ace Tarik Skubal has season-low two strikeouts in rare loss against Astros

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

HOUSTON — The margin for error was small, but that’s not been much of an issue for Tigers’ ace Tarik Skubal this season.

It was on Friday.

The Houston Astros had one hit through the first five innings against Skubal and then hit for the team cycle in the sixth and rode that to a 4-0 win over the Tigers at Minute Maid Park.

Skubal, who came in with a 1.92 ERA and had allowed two runs or less in 11 of his 13 starts, allowed a double to Jose Altuve on his first pitch of the game. He did not allow another until Altuve ripped another first-pitch double leading off the sixth inning.

Alex Bregman followed with an RBI triple and Yordan Alvarez brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

After a two-out single by Yainer Diaz, Mauricio Dubon launched a change-up that was at the bottom of the zone into the Crawford Boxes above the wall in left.

Before that four-run outburst, Skubal had allowed just two base runners (a walk and hit-batsman) after Altuve’s first double. He’d gotten nine ground-ball outs, six of them rolled over to third baseman Gio Urshela.

But in the sixth, the Astros were putting his pitches in the air. Altuve, who hit a 96-mph heater to start the game, was able to get his arms extended on a slider that was located down and away in the sixth.

Bregman drilled a 97-mph sinker that caught a lot of the plate.

And just like that, Skubal’s night was effectively ruined.

 

Credit the Astros with a having a solid plan of attack, too. Skubal had a season-low two strikeouts. The last time he had a start with two or fewer strikeouts was July 27, 2022.

The Astros had just 13 misses on 50 swings. Their focus was just to redirect baseballs against Skubal. They didn’t hit many hard (23 in play with an average exit velocity of 84 mph), but they didn't need to, as it turned out.

The Tigers were unable to mount any offense against Astros’ right-hander and Wayne State University product Hunter Brown. They managed five hits, all singles in seven innings against him, with nine strikeouts.

In his four starts before Friday, Brown had posted a 2.25 ERA with 26 strikeouts and eight walks, holding hitters to a .157 batting average.

The Tigers missed a chance to scratch a run off of Brown in the second inning. Gio Urshela and Colt Keith singled, but with runners at the corners, Brown struck out Justyn-Henry Malloy and got Jake Rogers to tap back to the mound.

It looked like Ryan Kreidler might’ve led off the third inning with a double on a ball he blooped down the line in right field. Except he missed first base on his way to second. He awkwardly stopped half-way between first and second but decided to keep going.

The Astros challenged and Kreidler was called out. No hit, score the play out, first baseman unassisted.

The Tigers (33-36) didn’t get another runner to second base the rest of the game.


©2024 The Detroit News. Visit detroitnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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