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Apr 5, 2024 3:06 am

Tarik Skubal starts Tigers’ home opener vs. punchless A’s

Tarik Skubal

Tarik Skubal got the honor of starting the Detroit Tigers’ season opener. Thanks to some inclement weather and a rotation adjustment, the hard-throwing left-hander will also start the Tigers’ home opener on Friday afternoon.

Skubal, who tossed six scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox on March 28, will face the Oakland Athletics in the first game of a weekend series.

Skubal (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was supposed to make his second start in New York against the Mets. After two rainouts, the Tigers played a doubleheader on Thursday, and manager A.J. Hinch chose to save his unofficial ace for Friday’s game.

“Opening Day’s probably the most nervous he’s ever been and the most amped up he’s ever been,” Hinch said. “So maybe that experience is probably better than any other experience.”

Skubal will be amped up again to pitch in front of a capacity crowd.

“I’m excited,” said Skubal, who is 3-2 with a 1.91 ERA in six career starts against the A’s. “Hopefully there are a lot of games with that atmosphere this year. ‘Get used to it early and often’ is kind of what the hope is, right?”

The Tigers are off to a strong start. They were the last unbeaten team in the majors until dropping the second game of the doubleheader to the Mets, 2-1. They won the opener 6-3 in 11 innings.

Originally, Thursday was supposed to be a day off for the Tigers. They will have a quick turnaround, but the excitement in the ballpark should give them an energy boost.

“It’s a holiday. Detroit, they do such a good job putting on a show,” Hinch said. “Our fans show up, it’s a party. It’s a fun night. Obviously, going in, we didn’t think Tarik was going to be the pitcher, so the fact that it’s worked out that way is pretty awesome.

“A lot of new things around the ballpark, behind the scenes that guys will see tonight when we land. It’s an awesome day in Detroit.”

Detroit fans also will get their first chance to see rookie Colt Keith. The team’s new second baseman had the go-ahead double in the doubleheader opener and reached base three times in the nightcap while scoring the Tigers’ lone run.

The A’s already have been blanked three times during their first seven games, including a 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. Oakland left 10 runners on base while completing a 1-6 homestand.

“The at-bats were better, even though we didn’t score,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “The Red Sox bullpen has got it going right now. It was a challenge.”

The lack off offense wasted a strong pitching performance by Oakland’s Ross Stripling, who threw seven innings of one-run ball.

“If we can get a couple of wins under our belt, maybe we can let loose on an individual level,” Stripling said. “A lot of guys are probably getting off to starts they were hoping would be a little better, so things start to tighten up and you put pressure on yourself. …

“I think we just need to get back to the basics. Fielding it and throwing it. Throwing strikes.”

Skubal will be opposed by JP Sears (0-1, 12.27 ERA). The left-hander gave up five runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Guardians in his first start on Saturday. He is 0-1 with a 1.46 ERA in two career starts against Detroit, with both of those outings occurring last year.

–Field Level Media

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