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May 11, 2024 7:34 am

Tarik Skubal faces Astros, looks to reverse Tigers’ losing trend

tarik skubal

Tarik Skubal is becoming one of the most feared pitchers in the majors.

The Detroit Tigers’ unofficial ace will make his eighth start of the season on Saturday evening in the second game of a three-game home series against the Houston Astros.

Detroit has won five of the seven games that Skubal (4-0, 1.90 ERA) has started. One of the exceptions came in his most recent start, a 5-2 road loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.

Skubal did his part, holding the Yankees to two runs in six innings while striking out a career-best 12 batters. He had to deal with soggy conditions, and the game was shortened to eight innings because of rain.

Aaron Judge homered off him in the first inning, and Oswaldo Cabrera added an RBI double in the second.

“The conditions dictated what you can throw, and it was tough to throw the slider,” Skubal said. “That’s why I was frustrated in the second to get beat on a slider. I’m not saying I’m going to execute every slider, but it was hard to get a grip. The rosin bag was wet, my glove was wet, the balls we were getting were wet. That dictated the game for me.”

Skubal might find it difficult to rack up double digits in strikeouts on Saturday. The Astros have struck out a major-league-low 246 times this season. Skubal has two no-decisions and a 2.08 ERA in his career against Houston.

The left-hander will be opposed by Houston right-hander Cristian Javier, who went on the injured list April 21 due to neck discomfort. His most recent major league start was April 14 against Texas.

Javier (2-0, 1.54 ERA) threw 3 1/3 innings on May 4 in a rehab start for Double-A Corpus Christi. He completed his rehab with a bullpen session on Wednesday.

Javier’s return allows the Astros to send struggling Hunter Brown to the bullpen. In four career outings against the Tigers, Javier is 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA.

The Astros won the series opener 5-2 on Friday night, helped by a four-run eighth inning. Their first run came on a Kyle Tucker home run, his 12th of the season.

“It’s a long lineup when they’re putting up quality at-bats,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said.

Houston’s late outburst did not feature an extra-base hit.

“The eighth showed what this team can do offensively,” manager Joe Espada said. “We just didn’t try to do too much.”

Jeremy Pena, who is 7-for-11 in three games since being inserted into the cleanup spot, had the go-ahead single.

“I feel like I’m getting a lot of opportunities with people on base,” he said. “I’m just sticking to my approach and trying to get a good at-bat.”

The Tigers have lost six of their past seven games. They’ve scored only 13 runs in those losses.

“Kind of lacking some timely hits and a little luck,” catcher Jake Rogers said. “Everyone’s just kind of missing a little piece. Hopefully, we can find that piece, put it back in the puzzle and get going.”

–Field Level Media

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